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Climate Change's Effect On Marine Life

Pete Springer/OPB

A new study shows marine life is feeling of climate change more intensely than life on land. Scientists looked at how quickly species are moving toward the poles in search of cooler temperatures and found that marine species are migrating at a rate of 72 kilometers per decade. That’s 12 times as fast as terrestrial life, which is moving at six kilometers per decade.

The report looked at over 1,700 documented changes in marine life. All of the data sets spanned at least 19 years, the time span that climate scientists say is necessary to confirm fluctuations are related to climate change, rather than temporary weather changes like El Niño.

The study also found that warmer temperatures are coming to the oceans earlier in the year. Marine spring events, like the temperature-driven bloom of zooplankton, take place as much as 11 days earlier than they used to.

What questions do you have about climate change’s effect on the ocean?


  • Mary O’Connor: Assistant Professor at the Biodiversity Research Center at the University of British Columbia.
climate change environment ocean

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