Oceans Workstream

UPDATE, April 22, 2016: Climate Change Degrading Underwater Forests

Giant kelp can grow up to a foot every day, and the fifty-foot stipes and broad blades of the Catalina kelp sheltered an underwater menagerie. Seals would emerge from and disappear into the forest. Pink and green abalone lived in cracks beside lobster and octopuses; the rocks were covered with gorgonians, crustose coralline algae the color of bubblegum, and clutching kelp holdfasts. Now, you can meet people who began working at the Catalina Island Marine Institute in December of 2014—only four months after my first trip—who have never seen kelp growing. [Read the full article…]

UPDATE, March 25, 2016: Hansen study finds Meltwater lensing effect may drive rapid sea level rise

Speaking on a teleconference to the media about his latest paper written with eighteen co-authors, Dr. James Hansen explained that most climate models understate the problem of sea level rise. Melting land-based ice contributes to sea level rise, but the meltwater effectively adds a layer of freshwater to the surface that enhances the lensing effect that makes magnifies the heat-trapping capability of the ocean. Since IPCC models do not include the positive feedback effects of meltwater on ocean systems, these models underestimate sea level rise.


This is of major significance, because a rapid rise of several meters in sea level would put thousands of coastal cities around the world—some among the most populous in the world—at risk. The impact on human living conditions, the global economy, and the stability of nation states would be unprecedented. Read more from:

UPDATE, March 16, 2016: Phytoplankton’s demise from global warming is bad news if you like oxygen and seafood

Humans have to eat and breathe, but the fate of a tiny plant in the world’s oceans might affect our ability to do both. A recent study on the Indian Ocean published in Geophysical Research Letters showed that there is an “alarming decrease” in phytoplankton in this region over the past six decades. In fact, the  population fell 30 percent in the last 16 years, in large part because of global warming. [Read the full article…]

UPDATE, February 20, 2016: Ocean Health Index rates global ocean health at 70 out of a possible 100

The Ocean Health Index—tool recently developed by Conservation International (CI) and partners—is reportedly capable of isolating specific ills affecting the oceans and of providing an overall rating of ocean health. The OHI has issued a global ocean health score of 70 out of 100.

A partnership with the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the OHI provides an essential method for gauging ocean health, enabling its users—including governments, businesses and researchers—to zoom in on problem areas. [Read the full article…]

UPDATE, January 5, 2016: Analysis of the Paris Agreement in relation to the Earth’s Oceans

Although the oceans have finally not been included in the Paris Agreement (maybe also to shorten the text and thus to further its chances to pass), they are directly mentioned in the Preamble and indirectly in the Agreement itself under the umbrella term of ecosystem integrity, as natural carbon sink bound to be protected and enhanced as well as an human habitat to be taken into consideration when planning adaptation to climate change.

Restoring and protecting those often “forgotten” ecoystems not only will ensure we naturally sequester huge amounts of carbon, but also will thus increasing their resilience to climate change simultaneously increase the resilience of the communities living associated with these ecosystems. And this in the most cost-efficient way! Furthermore, the growing coral reefs in Palau demonstrate that coherent coral reef conservation efforts do in fact pay off. [Read the full article…]

Mission Focus

The health of our oceans is a vital component of the Earth’s life-support systems. Without the oxygen-exhaling life that has evolved in the oceans, we would not have enough oxygen in the atmosphere to support advanced mammalian life. The oceans absorb far more of the excess thermodynamic energy trapped in our climate system that the atmosphere.

The oceans act both as vehicles for and regulators of world-wide thermodynamic energy flows which make up our climate system. In so many ways, the oceans provide us with the possibility of living in this world. We are now in the stage of building an Oceans Workstream, to allow citizens, stakeholders, advocates and policy experts to together to increase the ambition and efficacy of policies affecting our oceans and their relationship to future climate conditions.

During the COP22 climate negotiations in Marrakech, the Oceans Workstream will publish a daily, evolving “evergreen” report on the state of our oceans, related news, and relevant developments in the shaping of actions for implementation of Paris Agreement. Throughout 2016, we will be building in partners and reporting mechanisms to ensure maximum value of our COP22 efforts. 

To join this effort, go to our Workstreams page, and sign up.