Latest update: 12/11/2009
This week: Delving deep into the underworld to see how global warming is changing the world’s waters
ENVIRONMENT takes to the high seas on board the TARA, a boat that is sailing across the world’s oceans and seas to examine the effect climate change is having on them and their biodiversity.
Warming waters mean that our oceans are in trouble, with increasingly less fish in the sea, less coral and other sea creatures too; what’s more sea levels are rising thus putting coastlines and countries under pressure. Southeast Asia is already feeling the brunt of these changes with towns and villages increasingly under threat of being washed away.
The TARA is planning to go around the world, not in 80 days but in three years. The 36 meter long boat which has set sail with a 14 member scientific crew wants to examine the effect of global warming on our oceans. Taking samples of plankton from deep depths it periodically makes trips to laboratories on land where the evidence is gathered. Those onboard also hope to bring new and as yet unknown species to the surface.
The micro organisms that live in our oceans and seas absorb half of the world's carbon dioxide that is more than our forests. They are thus are of great importance to mankind because as they change so too does the atmosphere.
Climate change has already led to the rising of sea levels.
In the arctic the temperature rose by almost one degree Celsius over the last century by the end of this century the increase could be as much as four degrees. This would translate as a rise of more than one meter in ocean levels thus threatening the lives of one quarter of the world's population.
A problem for low lying lands especially in and around South East Asia. Some experts estimate there will be 250 million climate refugees in the world in 2050, already today 634 million people live on a coast less than ten meters above the sea level.
But when there is life there is hope and finally ENVIRONMENT turns to a drop in the ocean off the coast of France where 100 hectares of pristine land has just risen out of the waters near Royan in the Gironde River Basin. A dream come true for scientists as it provides a rare chance to study the life of an ecosystem in it's earliest beginnings.