Marine science has been around for more than half a century.
It’s a complex field with many competing interests, with the field of marine research in particular facing an array of challenges.
In the 1970s, the marine research community got a boost from the introduction of new technologies such as the use of new equipment, technology and software to study marine life and to improve research methods.
As the field developed, it has come under increasing pressure from government agencies and other scientists to find new and better ways to protect the oceans.
For example, in the US, the Obama administration recently proposed a plan to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted by ships by up to half by 2050.
But there’s also a growing awareness of the risks marine scientists face as the oceans continue to warm.
“If you look at the top of the food chain, we are living in an extremely difficult climate, with water temperatures reaching up to 40°C [104°F],” says David Tumlin, a professor of marine biology at the University of Maryland, who is working on a new book, Ocean: A World Beyond Sea.
“What we’re seeing in the oceans is an increasing risk of ocean acidification and the threat of ocean diseases, so it’s clear that marine science is going to have to play a greater role in climate change mitigation.”
Some scientists are calling for marine science to take a greater part in climate research, in order to reduce these risks.
Tumline says marine science has long been an important part of marine ecosystems, and this includes helping to identify the health and nutritional value of marine organisms and their habitats.
But as oceans continue their rise in temperature and acidity, he argues that it is important to understand how the oceans are doing.
He says that in the coming decades, the world’s oceans will become increasingly stressed as global warming causes more acidic oceans to form, with many species suffering from increased mortality and disease.
For marine scientists, that means that marine research needs to take the lead in studying marine organisms as well as the impact of climate change on marine life.
Tums research on the health of coral reefs was published in the Journal of Marine Science last year, and he says that this is the first time a peer-reviewed journal has published a marine science study that uses an underwater vehicle.
“We’re really fortunate to have the marine biologists who work in marine biology,” he says.
“They are the first ones in the world to use this technology and they are doing a very important job in understanding the effects of ocean warming on coral reefs.”
Tumlock is now working with other marine scientists to help build a better understanding of marine health and how to manage the impacts of climate on marine ecosystems.
For instance, he says, researchers need to understand the effect of temperature on coral populations.
“A lot of what we see is coral die-off, and that’s because of ocean heat stress and acidification,” he explains.
“The corals are responding to it and they’re dying off.
But they’re responding to this stress on their ecosystems.
That’s a real problem for marine scientists.”