Polar bears and penguins could potentially be extinct by the year 2100 if ocean temperatures continue to rise at the current rate, marine biologists warned on Monday, reports The Economic Times.
Warming temperatures caused by climate changing emissions may result in a 2.8 degree celsius rise in ocean temperatures, making them uninhabitable for many fish, mammals, birds and invertebrates, scientists at the Florida Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina said in a paper published in the journal ‘Nature Climate Change‘.
“With warming of this magnitude, we expect to lose many, if not most, animal species from marine protected areas by the turn of the century,” said the study’s lead author, John Bruno, a biologist at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
Marine protected areas, established as sanctuaries for polar bears, coral reefs and other wildlife threatened by human activities such as fishing and oil extraction, have failed to protect species from the impacts of global warming. Some species in warmer Tropical Protection Zones that flourish with corals and brightly-coloured fish could reach the critical point where most species can no longer tolerate their living conditions by 2050.
“Oceanic warming is happening most rapidly at the poles. Warming will threaten polar ecosystems generally, including iconic wildlife like polar bears and penguins,” Richard Aronson, co-author of the study said in an email.
Around 90 per cent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases is absorbed by oceans, Aronson added.
“We have to take bold steps individually and as a society to control emissions. Shifting away from our dependence on fossil fuels would be a major step in the right direction,” he said. “Stabilising emissions over the next few decades could cut the rate of warming in half,” he added.