Covering about 70% of the Earth’s surface, the world’s five great oceans have a complicated, but essential, relationship with our weather and climate.
As the climate warms, so too do the oceans, which results in melting land ice, iceburgs and rising sea levels, a real and present danger for many coastal areas of the world. But on the positive side, the oceans have also dampened the effects of climate change as they naturally absorb vast quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2), which would have otherwise entered our atmosphere and add to the greenhouse effect.
However, this absorption of CO2 has resulted in the oceans becoming slightly more acidic over the past century and this changes the condition of marine habitats, potentially harming biodiversity. Another growing issue concerning the health of our oceans is the ever increasing quantity of plastic that ends up in our seas that persists for decades if not centuries, damaging marine life and the polluting the unique ecosystems they depend upon.