The Impacts of Climate Change on the Ocean


In partnership with the Permanent Mission of Monaco, the Division of Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the UN Correspondents Association convened a meeting on the growing impacts of climate change on the ocean. Dan Laffoley began the session by explaining the causes, scales, effects, and consequences of ocean warming. Warming causes the expansion of seawater and the melting of glaciers and ice sheets. It can also impact the weather, such as the increasing frequency and intensity of hurricanes, and hurricanes occurring in areas where they do not frequently occur. Warming can cause a catalog of changes: impacts on breeding successes, seasonality shifts leading to mismatches in prey and predator occurrences, and shifts in fishing grounds of target species. Laffoley concluded by emphasizing the urgent need for a concerted joined-up global policy action for ocean protection and to achieve rapid and substantial cuts in GHGs.


Immediately following, Lisa Levin highlighted that rising CO2 levels have created a deadly quartet of stressors: ocean deoxygenation, acidification, global warming and rising sea levels. Ocean deoxygenation can lead to reduced bioturbation, rapid diversity shifts, colonization, and altered carbon processing. Ocean acidification affects calcifying organisms in the shallow parts of the ocean. Levin further explains that global warming in the deep ocean can cause species invasion and a loss of food supply to the deep sea. The areas of greatest warming are also subject to the most intense trawling. Rising sea levels in urban settings create wetland loss, which affects water quality, fisheries, migratory bird support, and shoreline protection. Levin concluded that communities need to raise awareness and improve climate literacy, develop policies to protect ecosystem services of high seas commons altered by climate change and obtain sustained financing in order to support ocean-related activities.

Meeting: The Impacts of Climate Change on the Ocean

Date/Location: Friday, 24 February 2017; 10:00 to 12:30; UN Headquarters, United Nations Correspondent Association (Conference Room S-310)

Speakers: Isabelle Picco, Monaco’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations; Dan Laffoley, Senior Advisor on Marine Science and Conservation at IUCN; Lisa A. Levin, Director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation and Distinguished Professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Written By: Na-Yeon Park, WIT Representative


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