finding 17.3 : key-message-17-3

Consequences of rising atmospheric CO2 are expected to include difficult-to-predict changes in the ecosystem services that terrestrial and oceanic systems provide to humans. For instance, ocean acidification resulting from rising CO2 has decreased the supply of larvae that sustains commercial shellfish production in the northwestern United States. In addition, CO2 fertilization (increases) plus warming (decreases) are changing terrestrial crop yields (high confidence, likely).

This finding is from chapter 17 of Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR2): A Sustained Assessment Report.

Description of evidence base: Commercial oyster larvae in the U.S. Pacific Northwest were significantly damaged by ocean acidification, which caused much higher than usual larval mortality for several years in the mid-2000s (Barton et al., 2015). Harmful impacts on oysters by ocean acidification were well documented (e.g., Kroeker et al., 2013, and references therein). Crop production increased in response to experimentally elevated CO2 (Leakey et al., 2009), accompanied by decreases in seed quality. Decreased protein content has been documented in wheat, barley, rice, potatoes, and soybeans grown at high CO2 (Myers et al., 2014; Taub et al., 2008). Physiological changes also led to increased herbivory in some crops (DeLucia et al., 2012; Dermody et al., 2008). Additional effects are expected for human populations via changes in ocean services, as reviewed in Pörtner et al. (2014). Gattuso et al. (2015) completed a literature review, plus expert judgement assessment, to determine the risk that ocean ecosystem services face from the combined effects of ocean acidification and warming.

New information and remaining uncertainties: Uncertainty is related to how rising CO2 may have affected an array of marine and terrestrial harvests and how they may be affected in the future. Evaluating ecosystem services is difficult, and forecasting changes to these services is even more challenging.

Assessment of confidence based on evidence: Very high confidence in the existence and attribution of impacts to increased atmospheric CO2; medium confidence about future projected impacts on ecosystem services.

This finding was derived from figure P.2: P.2. Likelihood and Confidence Evaluation

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