Anthropogenic climate change is pushing the marine life towards major extinction, and a new study has found that disruptions in the marine ecosystem happen rapidly but the recovery may take thousands of years and not hundreds of years as previously believed.
Lead author Sarah Moffitt, a scientist from the Bodega Marine Laboratory and Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute at the University of California, Davis, said “What we’re doing now is a long-term shift — there’s not a recovery we have to look forward to in my lifetime or my grandchildren’s lifetime.”
Researchers have studied over 5,400 invertebrate fossils from the sediments of the ocean floor off Santa Barbara, California in order to understand how the climate change has affected the marine ecosystem and reduction in the level of dissolved oxygen in the oceans.
The fossils were 3,400 and 16,000 years ago, this is the time when deglaciation accompanied by melting of polar ice caps, low oxygen level in ocean and climate warming took place.
Based on the study of the fossils, scientist found that there was loss of diversity with the depletion of oxygen levels and this period lasted only decade but for the ecosystem to recover it took thousands of years.
Moffitt said, “These past events show us how sensitive ecosystems are to changes in Earth’s climate — it commits us to thousands of years of recovery.”
The scientists also found that similar deoxygenation effect taking place in the oceans and this would be equally damaging.
She added, “It’s a gritty reality we need to face as scientists and people who care about the natural world and who make decisions about the natural world.”