Photo 9: Bow of the NOAA Ship RAINIER as seen through a hole in a melting ice berg.
(NOAA Photo Library.)
Climate change has emerged as a critical global environmental and socio-economic issue. A number of international bodies are considering measures for mitigating the effects of climate change. For example, the sequestration of carbon dioxide in the deep seabed and the fertilization of the oceans through the deposit of iron and other materials are being reviewed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) is cooperating with the IMO on research on ocean fertilization and is also considering impacts to coastal communities from sea level rise. The IOC has contributed to research on ocean fertilization by responding to requests for scientific and technical information. The member states of the IOC however, have agreed that in regulating and researching ocean fertilization, the precautionary principle should control. The IOC has continued research that contributes to programs such as the International Ocean Carbon Coordination Project. NOAA and other federal government agencies are also undertaking research and exploring mitigation measures to address climate change.
Ocean acidification, another consequence of climate change, has also received international attention in recent years. The rate at which the ocean absorbs CO2 has increased dramatically due to increased CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. This increased absorption has made the oceans more acidic, harming coral reefs and other building blocks of ocean life. Internationally, the recent Rio +20 Conference brought about the announcement of a new ocean acidification monitoring system which will be run by the International Atomic Energy Agency. NOAA is also taking action to research and monitor ocean acidification as well as acidification of the Great Lakes.
General Climate Change Information:
Legal Basis for Addressing Climate Change: