In Abu Dhabi marine biologist has predicted that the consequences of climate change in our seas in the next 70 years could be worse than projected in a Gulf-wide study.
Published in science journal PLOS One, the research measured the future impact of global warming in the region on 55 species of marine life including dugongs, local fish and vegetation such as seagrass.
The report, which measured countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, found that the UAE is projected to see one of the region’s highest rates of species loss in the next seven decades, with a projected 35 percent of species set to be extinct by 2090.
However, with coral bleaching on our shores still a huge concern, a local expert has predicted that the number may actually be far higher due to habitat loss.
“Coral reefs are known as one of the major ecosystems in the region,” Dr John Burt, associate professor of biology at NYUAD, told us. “They offer a nursery habitat for fishes [and] also provide a foraging ground for commercial species. They are incredibly sensitive to climate change, so if it is affecting those reefs, then it’s going to have knock-on effects for the species in the study.
“The study projects that there is going to be a loss of a third of species by 2090,” he added. “In reality, I’d suggest that number is going to be higher, because of the loss of habitat we will experience.”
In addition to measuring species loss, the report also looked at the economic impact of climate change, finding that the UAE may see a drop in commercial fishing output nearing 40 percent of its current rate.
“A lot of the species looked at in the study have commercial value,” agreed Dr John. “Where this will hit people most directly is in the market. If you’re a fish consumer, you’re going to see prices skyrocket as they will no longer be available here.”
“In parts of the Gulf, the temperatures have been increasing by just over half a degree per decade since the 1980s – that’s roughly three times faster than the global average. We should be concerned.”