Forecasting Change: Here are the local impacts of a warming ocean

Ocean 30% more acidic today

Cocoa Beach. (WKMG)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Here we are fully into the “Dog Days of Summer.” Over the last 3 weeks, almost every day in Orlando, we have had a daytime high above the average for this time of year.

Here on Forecasting Change, we discuss the warming of the climate, the effects of that warming on our environment, and the difference it is making in our lives. This week we focus on our oceans.

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Ocean temperatures have been changed by our warming planet. The oceans have limited the global warming by absorbing excess heat. But that absorption has come at a price.

Last week we talked about algal blooms, but those blooms are only part of the problem.

Unusually warm oceans have damaged our coral reefs, created low-oxygen dead zones, and hurt our food supply in fisheries.

According to our media partners at Climate Central, our oceans have absorbed a little more than 25% of human-caused CO2 emissions from 2011-2020. That has led to the ocean acidity rising.

Our oceans are now 30% more acidic than they were 250 years ago — that has an impact on many species. The warming of the ocean also leads to sea level rise, faster evaporation, and eventually heavier rains. All of that contributes to coastal erosion and flooding.

Ocean warming

Remember that most of our Earth is water. The oceans are our largest ecosystem. We need to keep a healthy ocean to keep producing oxygen. About 50% of our oxygen comes from the ocean. In short, if the ocean gets too warm the fish and plankton will die.

About the Author:

Tom Sorrells is News 6's Emmy award winning chief meteorologist. He pinpoints storms across Central Florida to keep residents safe from dangerous weather conditions.