More bad news in climate science: it could take our oceans up to 1000 years to recover from decades of degradation from global warming.
Researchers at UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory have found that climate change and the resulting deoxygenation of seawater has altered the oceans’ ecology rapidly.
Now these scientists say that getting back to normal could be on the scale of 1000 years, rather than 100 years as previously thought.
They found their results by going back in time to the last glacial period.
Study leader Sarah Moffitt and her team analyzed about 5,400 invertebrate fossils in a sediment core off the shore of Santa Barbara, Calif.
The fossils cover a period between about 3,000 and 16,000 years and help provide a snapshot of what the world was like before, during and after deglaciation, which saw a dramatic climate warming as we are currently experiencing.
This was a period, not unlike ours, of melting polar ice caps and the lowering of oxygen in the ocean.
Using this information the scientists can show how long it took for the recovery of the ocean ecosystem – and it took awhile.
“The recovery does not happen on a century scale; it’s a commitment to a millennial-scale recovery,” said Moffitt, according to the Los Angeles Times. “If we see dramatic oxygen loss in the deep sea in my lifetime, we will not see a recovery of that for many hundreds of years, if not thousands or more.”
Primarily, this means the disappearance of species and a rapidly changing ocean ecology, the consequences of which can be ugly.
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.