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Not Enough Marine Input into IPCC reports

‘Marine ecosystems are undoubtedly under-resourced, overlooked and under threat’ as stated in an article in Science’s Policy Forum (6 June 2008), by Anthony Richardson and Elvira Poloczanska.

There is little doubt that even the most far-fetched corners of the ocean escape the impact of eutrophication, overfishing, pollution and of course global warming (see Research Highlight on Atlas of Human Footprint on the Oceans). Marine ecosystems are vulnerable to rising CO2 emissions and and marine response to climate change may be faster than that on land, with zonal species shifts reported throughout the trophic chain and oceanic domains. Despite that marine ecosystem data and research is not a major part of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) reports.

‘Marine research is under-resourced compared with that on land’ but funding is not the only issue as the authors state in the Policy Forum article. Apart from the obvious difficulties of sampling the expansive oceanic realm, the authors point to limitations in the IPCC process as well as the urgent need for marine ecologists to report their data in ways that will facilitate their inclusion in future climate change assessments.

Marine ecologists need to embrace general principles that transcend environments, such as effect of temperature on growth, rates of habitat destruction and likelihood of climatic tipping points beyond which ecosystems may not recover.

Marine and terrestrial ecologists need to ‘work from a common template to produce a global synthesis of climate impacts’, points Elvira Poloczanska in an interview with Science.



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