The world ocean absorbs roughly 28% of the excess CO2 emissions thus acting as the equal second reservoir of anthropogenic CO2 together with terrestrial ecosystems. This comes with a price: the ocean has become significantly more acidic, which can affect the ability of marine organisms such as plankton, mollusks and reef-building corals to build and maintain shells and skeletal material. The ocean has also warmed significantly in modern times, which has an impact on the distribution of oxygen and the emergence of "dead" (extremely poor in oxygen) zones. This more acidic, warmer and poor in oxygen world ocean has clear effects in terms of reduced ecosystem functioning for ecosystem services such as climate mitigation and food security. The world ocean is an integral part of the climate system: the coupling processes and feedback mechanisms among atmosphere, ocean, land surface, and cryosphere will determine the features and behavior of the climate system of the future.


Our work on Climate

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO is at the forefront of climate science and knowledge that inform and underpin meaningful actions to counteract climate change:
The World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) - an endeavor of IOC, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the International Science Council (ISC) - acts as an authoritative international platform to craft and implement the next generation of the research agenda on climate and climate change. WCRP is also responsible for developing the models on which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) bases its scenarios and, therefore, negotiations and decisions on climate change are based.

IOC, WMO, ISC and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) co-sponsor the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), which provides an increasingly comprehensive platform to integrated in situ and remote observations of the status of the world ocean and its response to global change, including climate change.

The IOC portfolio of activities on early warning systems of tsunami events and other ocean hazards entails inter alia systematic observations of sea level and changes therein, which is of direct relevance to vulnerability and risks of coastal communities and ecosystems related to the effects of climate change.

Additionally, the IOC activities aimed at supporting climate adaptation in member states include a well-proven and increasingly widely applied methodology for marine spatial planning, including in relation to multi-stakeholder dialogues based on science that are aimed at developing agreed climate change adaptation plans.

The IOC’s Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS), the leading UN database on ocean biodiversity, continued to contribute to the achievement of several UN 2020 Biodiversity Targets, FAO’s Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems, and is called upon by the 193 Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to support the identification of Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas.


Useful links:

Blue Carbon Initiative

Global Carbon Project

State of the Global Climate 2018

World Climate Research Programme