Yesterday it was reported that global warming is transforming the Barents Sea from an Arctic sea into an Atlantic sea.
Now a paper published by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme warns that the changes underway could wipe out the Barents' bountiful cod stocks.
The grim forecast is based on the most comprehensive study to date of the effects of climate change on cod, which – for the first time – takes into account ocean acidification as well as warming.
It found larvae mortality rates were 75% higher when exposed to the combined pressures of the two factors – both of which are caused by emissions – than to heating alone. As a result, fish numbers, catches and revenues will decline faster than previously estimated.
The Barents Sea, which is in the Arctic, is a major source of seafood nutrition for northern Europe. Along with Iceland, it is a key source of cod imports into the UK, which has over-fished its own waters. More Atlantic fish are migrating into this region as a result of global warming.
But this ocean has the highest level of acidification in the world because cold water absorbs more carbon dioxide, which changes its pH level. It is also the ocean that is experiencing the fastest rates of heating. While the global average is a rise of 1.1C since the start of the industrial revolution, the coastal breeding grounds of the cod in the Barents Sea have experienced a temperature increase of 3.5C.
Unless the warming trend is controlled, the stocks will see a boom and then a bust.This marine exodus is proof positive of the reality, even the severity, of global warming. Fish and marine mammals and sea birds aren't interested in the sophistry of climate change deniers. The entire food chain is on the move in one direction - poleward. In British Columbia's coastal waters these newcomers range from krill to sardines to transient orca to humpback whales and many more. And, yes, ocean acidification is already having impacts especially on oyster and scallop beds. The extra acid in the water makes it more difficult for these creatures to grow proper shells.
But petro-state governments nestled thousands of miles from the coast can't be too engaged with these impacts, not when they're aiming to flood world markets with toxin-laden, high-carbon bitumen that can only add to the warming and the acidification of our oceans. This is Alberta's and Ottawa's giant "fuck you" to coastal British Columbians. And they claim we're the problem.