Climate Change Moving Marine Life 4 Miles Every Year

Could be fatal for some

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 5, 2013 7:26 PM CDT

(Newser) – Climate change is really jerking animals around—literally. A new international study has found marine life is moving an average of 4.3 miles towards the poles each year, while land animals are moving about 3,280 feet, as ocean and air temperatures rise, the Guardian reports. "We knew that changes were happening, but we didn't expect them to be so pervasive," says a study leader, per the ABC. "We didn't expect to pick up changes in every single ocean and we certainly didn't expect the changes to be as rapid as we're seeing."

The move could prove fatal for some species that can't withstand the cooler waters where their prey might now be, the Guardian reports. "Some species like barnacles and lots of shellfish are constrained to living on the coast, so in places like Tasmania, if they’re already at the edge of the range there’s nowhere for them to go. You could potentially lose those," says Dr Christopher Brown, a researcher from the study. But even if humans change our climate-changing ways now, the sea creatures may have moved another 87 miles by the time it has any effect. "There’s a long lag time," says Brown. "Even if we reduce emissions now then those effects won’t be seen for 20 years or so.”

Coral reefs are seen in the waters of Tatawa Besar, Komodo islands, Indonesia.
Coral reefs are seen in the waters of Tatawa Besar, Komodo islands, Indonesia.   (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara, File)
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