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02 December 2011

Scientists worried about ocean health

Durban - Scientists have called for ocean warming to be taken seriously during climate change talks.

"We as scientists are not happy that the issue of ocean warming is ignored during climate talks here in Durban," said Carol Turley of United Kingdom’s Ocean Acidification Research Programme.

She was speaking on the sidelines of the 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change taking place at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention centre.

Turley said there was a need to address ocean warming, as over the coming decades ocean health would become increasingly stressed as a result of greenhouse emissions.

Ocean warming is said to be caused by increasing atmospheric temperature as a result of greenhouse gas emissions.

It affects the exchange of gases between the ocean surface and the atmosphere, causing substantial changes in the marine physics, chemistry and biology.

Turley said it was important for policy-makers to understand the role the ocean played in sustaining life on earth. It covered nearly three quarters of the earth’s surface and provided around half of the oxygen people breathed.

If ocean stresses were not addressed, it could affect about 500 million people who depend directly on fisheries for their livelihood.

"The ocean is very important and I don’t understand why we are not focusing on dealing with its stresses. We need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions," she said.

- SAPA/News24