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Global warming is real: Research predicts 6-fold rise in fish mass die-offs by 2100 – Down To Earth Magazine

These die-offs may have detrimental effects on the functioning of our ecosystem and food security

If global carbon emissions are not drastically decreased by the end of this century, the results could be catastrophic for the entire planet. Photo: iStock. If global carbon emissions are not drastically decreased by the end of this century, the results could be catastrophic for the entire planet. Photo: iStock.

Global warming will lead to a six-fold increase in the frequency of fish mortality events by 2100, according to a recent study.

These die-offs may have detrimental effects on the functioning of our ecosystem, warned the study published in Limnology and Oceanography Letters August 26, 2022.

It can also imperil the existing fish populations and food security thereof. If global carbon emissions are not drastically decreased by the end of this century, the results could be catastrophic for the entire planet, the researchers warned.

The researchers compiled 526 documented fish die-offs acrosslakes in the American states of Minnesota and Wisconsin between 2003 and 2013. 

The research paper was co-authored by Simon Tye, a doctoral student and Adam Siepielski, associate professor at the University of Arkansas, US.

Infectious pathogens, summerkills and winterkills were shown to be the three primary causes of these occurrences, according to the researchers.

The researchers then narrowed their focus to summer kills and found a strong link between local air and water temperatures and the occurrence of these events. Summer kills refer to the fish mortalities associated with warm temperatures.

Additionally, their models that employed either air temperature or water temperature produced comparable results. These results are significant because data on air temperature is more generally accessible than data on water temperature.

“We think predictions from the water temperature model are more realistic,” said Simon Tye, co-author of the study, in a press release.

Predictions from the air temperature model need a better understanding of regional air circulation and water temperatures, he added.

The models also demonstrate a high association between the frequency of ecological disasters and warming temperatures.

“As with many examples of how climate warming is negatively affecting wild animal populations, this work reveals that temperature extremes can be particularly detrimental,” he added.

Our findings suggest these rapid changes in temperature affect a wide range of fish regardless of their thermal tolerance, he added.

“One of the findings of the paper is that similar deviations in temperature affect all types of fish, such that a regional heatwave could lead to mortalities of both cold- and warm-water fish,” he said. 

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