Ocean warming may well turn out to be the greatest hidden challenge of our generation. Up to now, the ocean has shielded us from the worst impacts of climate change by absorbing significant parts of the heat and CO2. More than 93% of the enhanced heating since the 1970s due to the greenhouse effect and other human activities has been absorbed by the ocean, and data show a sustained and accelerating upward trend in ocean warming.
Whether ocean warming impacts a particular group of organisms, alters the structures of ecosystems such as coral reefs, changes the very essence of environmental conditions, or indeed influences weather, it impacts on everyone to some degree as we are an ocean planet. It has profound implications not just for ecosystems but also for the significant number of coastal communities and valuable economies that depend on a healthy ocean.
IUCN has published a report on ocean warming exploring the consequences of putting such massive amounts of energy into the ocean, the warming it is causing and resulting changes that are now taking place.