INTRODUCTION Since 1800, atmospheric C02 concentrations have increased from roughly 280 parts per million by volume (ppmv) to 380 ppmv, primarily as a result of fossil fuel burning and deforestation. Projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicate that these concentrations will increase to about 710 ppmv by 2100. Environmental impacts associated with this increase in atmospheric Co2 include a lowering of seawater pH, an increase in average surface air temperature (1.4-5.8 °C) and sea surface temperature (2-3 °C), changes in meridional temperature gradients and associated wind systems, increased thermal stratification of the water column, poleward expansion of tropical/subtropical weather systems, increases in evaporation rates, and changes in precipitation patterns. There is widespread concern over the impacts these environmental changes will have on the Earth's ecosystem and on human societies. The concern stems in large part from the very rapid timeframe of the changes. Over geologic time the climate of the Earth has in fact changed dramatically. Despite geological evidence for oxygen-producing photosyn- thesis as early as 3.5 billion years ago,1 the Earth's atmosphere appears to have remained devoid of oxygen for roughly another 1.5 billion years. Most of the oxygen produced by photosynthetic processes was apparently
Ocean Yearbook Online – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1
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