The Earth’s climate is changing at a time when society re-evaluates its relationship with nature and with the services that natural systems provide to human societies. Oceans are central to the climate system, recycling half of the oxygen we breathe and absorbing half of the carbon dioxide we emit through the burning of fossil fuels. Oceans accumulate 97% of the Earth’s water and 95% of all mobile carbon, providing food and livelihood opportunities to secure our well-being. Discussing the effects of climate change on the world's oceans is thus critical to understanding what is changing, how is it changing and how these changes will influence society. Direct and indirect effects of climate change on the marine environment are already visible, but others can only be projected based on enhanced observations, experimentations and modeling efforts. We still have a rudimentary understanding of the sensitivity, vulnerability and adaptability of natural and managed marine ecosystems to climate change.
The strong linkage between ocean dynamics and societal needs, underlined by the role of science, represents the background for a series of climate change meetings coordinated by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO). The first international symposium took place in 2008 (Gijón, Spain) responding to the urgent need for an assessment of the consequences of climate change on the world’s oceans. The second symposium in the series was convened in 2012 (Yeosu, Korea), and explored in detail the many interconnected ways in which climate change affected ocean ecosystems and their living resources, from physical, chemical, biological and ecological perspectives. Both meetings attracted about 400 scientists from almost 50 countries.
The Third International Symposium on the Effects of Climate Change on the World’s Oceans will be held in Santos (Brazil) by invitation of the Oceanographic Institute of the University of São Paulo (IOUSP) demonstrating the engagement and commitment of Brazil to the recommendations of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20. This symposium will provide opportunities for the international science community to bring the latest information, understanding and assessment of the impacts of climate change on our oceans. Twelve sessions covering different but interconnected themes have been selected, from physical processes and their interaction with ecosystem dynamics, to resource provision and ocean governance. The latest developments in predicting changes in biodiversity, phenology, fisheries and ecosystems as well as in the physical systems that sustains these, will inform discussions on the risks and opportunities that climate change will bring to coastal communities and to society at large. The symposium will also highlight knowledge gaps to stimulate the development of the new generation of science of climate change impacts on our oceans.