The ocean - climate nexus: the importance of continuing research into the role of the ocean for climate | Compendium Coast and Sea

The ocean - climate nexus: the importance of continuing research into the role of the ocean for climate

The ocean plays a key role as a climate regulator and in buffering the effects of climate change. For example, since the industrial revolution, the ocean has absorbed more than 25% of human CO2 emissions and more than 90% of the additional heat generated by the greenhouse effect. Despite the fundamental connection between the climate, the ocean and biodiversity, there are still processes that we do not fully understand.

Following the Climate Summit COP 25 in Madrid, the so-called 'Blue COP', Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) made a policy informing note that (1) explains the inextricable connections between the ocean, the climate, biodiversity and our well-being, (2) gives a concise overview of the (inter)national climate policy, (3) provides guidance on the available relevant scientific expertise within the Belgian marine research community and (4) underlines the importance of further development of the marine observation and research infrastructure.

Scientists agree that a transboundary and multidisciplinary approach is needed to understand the connection between the climate and the ocean in order to predict the implications of a changing ocean for our environment and well-being. These insights will be fundamental to underpin the societal and political response to climate change. The international research community therefore has an essential role to play in the major ocean-climate issue and in providing solutions.

For example, large-scale cross-border observation initiatives and infrastructures providing long-term observations will provide the basis for a better understanding of ocean processes. The further development of e-infrastructures should provide essential data for advanced models aiming at generating realistic scenarios for the future.

Belgium, despite its limited marine area, can boast a long tradition of marine research. Most of the marine research groups have a direct link with climate in their research and are characterised by a great diversity of expertise. They are well established in relation to both fundamental (e.g. ecology, biogeochemistry, hydrodynamics, paleontology, etc.), adaptive (e.g. coastal defence, etc.) and mitigating (e.g. offshore renewable energy, etc.) themes.

Continued support of the aforementioned expertise and infrastructure is therefore essential to further sharpen and broaden our marine understanding of climate change. These measurements and knowledge will be crucial to develop substantiated solutions and to formulate an adequate societal response to climate change.

The policy information note can be consulted here (only available in Dutch).

Head of communication and press officer VLIZ: Jan Seys -