The ocean is a vast, salty body of water that covers 71% of the Earth’s surface. It controls our climate, provides food, and helps to protect coastal ecosystems.
The sea also plays a critical role in the world’s economy. More than 90% of global trade and more than 60% of global exports are transported across the ocean. The ocean serves as a transportation hub and provides jobs for millions of people worldwide.
There are a variety of ocean-related industries, including marine agriculture and aquaculture, shipbuilding, and offshore oil drilling. The sea is also the source of many of the chemicals that humans use to make medicines, paints, plastics and other products.
Maritime industries are essential for many countries, especially developing nations. Without these resources, people would be unable to support their families and communities.
One of the most important functions of the ocean is its capacity to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reducing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Currently, the oceans absorb about half of the CO2 that humans add to the atmosphere.
Our changing climate is also threatening the health of coral reefs, which are among the most protected and beautiful ocean ecosystems. Warming oceans are causing coral reefs to shrink, which in turn threatens the survival of many marine animals and plants.
In addition, the ocean’s acidity is also affecting marine life. As carbon dioxide dissolves in the seawater, it reacts with water molecules to form carbonic acid. This changes the acidity of the seawater and reduces the amount of carbonate available for shell-building and skeleton formation by marine animals.
The average pH of the oceans’ surface waters is about 8.1. This may not seem like much, but it represents a ten-fold increase in acidity. This is a problem because marine life needs carbonate to build shells and skeletons that can help protect them from predators.
This is a particularly important problem in tropical regions, where a large portion of the world’s coral reefs are located. The loss of these delicate habitats can cause massive die-offs of coral reefs, leading to mass deaths and devastating impacts for marine species.
Fortunately, the global response to this problem has been remarkable. With a growing number of organizations and governments pledging to take action on the issue, we can hope for a brighter future.
There are many ways to improve the way we live with and care for our oceans. For example, we can learn to better manage the use of energy, including the renewable energy that comes from our oceans’ natural cycles such as the tides.
Our oceans are the most diverse habitat on Earth, and they are home to thousands of different species of plants, fish, and other animals. Some of these species have never been discovered before.
Although many of the 226,000 ocean species scientists know today are suffering from climate change, pollution and other problems, there is still plenty of room for discovery. National Geographic Explorer Marcello Calisti, for example, is pursuing an ambitious program to design robots that can explore the ocean’s deepest parts. This will allow researchers to learn more about the planet’s most biodiverse ecosystem and how it can be restored.