The Ocean and the Climate Crisis

The planet is in a climate emergency. A warming planet means sea levels will rise and ocean storms will increase in frequency and intensity. Our work educates coastal residents about the challenges we face as the climate changes and explores how coastal Oregon can prepare today for an uncertain future. Fortunately, much work has already occurred to understand how coastal communities might prepare for future climate change impacts.

Annual median sea level along the U.S. coast (with land motion removed) has increased by about 9 inches since the early 20th century as oceans have warmed and land ice has melted (4th National Climate Assessment Ch. 2: Climate,).

Higher sea level coupled with more frequent and intense storms threatens coastal communities today.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has modeled four future carbon paths. The business-as-usual path, the path we are on now, forecasts potential sea level rise of nearly three feet by 2100. Such a rise in sea level would be catastrophic for many coastal communities.

Oceans are also currently absorbing more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere annually by human activities, increasing their acidity. Higher ocean acidity has already impacted Oyster seed production at Netarts Bay.

Use the link below to subscribe to the new CRA newsletter Ocean News. You will receive monthly updates about relevant ocean science, marine conservation and climate news.

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A monthly email digest of the most important Oregon focused climate & ocean stories. This newsletter also features local events and updates from Oregon’s Marine Reserve Program. Concise & relevant – don’t miss an issue.

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