“The ocean is the foundation of life. It supplies the air we breathe and food we eat. It regulates our climate and weather. The ocean is our planet’s greatest reservoir of biodiversity. Its resources sustain communities, prosperity and human health around the world. Humanity counts on the ocean. But can the ocean count on us?”, said UN Secretary-General António Guterres on World Oceans Day 2023.
Every year on June 8, we celebrate World Oceans Day to create awareness about the importance of oceans in sustaining life on earth, and how over these years the marine life and ecosystem has deteriorated due to human activities like pollution, overfishing, oil spillages and climate change.
This year, the theme for World Oceans Day is– ‘Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing’. While addressing the day, UN Secretary General, added, “touched upon how marine biodiversity is under attack from overfishing, over-exploitation and ocean acidification. Over one-third of fish stocks are being harvested at unsustainable levels. And we are polluting our coastal waters with chemicals, plastics and human waste.”
Why do we celebrate World Ocean Day?
It was in 1992, when the concept of a ‘World Oceans Day’ was first proposed at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It was a way to celebrate the world’s shared ocean and human’s personal connection to the sea. It also acted as a medium to raise awareness about the crucial role the ocean plays in our lives and the important ways people can help protect it.
What are ocean tides, why are they important?
Tides are long-period waves that move through the ocean in response to the forces of the moon and sun. These tides originate in the ocean and progress toward the coastlines where they appear as the regular rise and fall of the sea surface.
When the highest part, or crest, of the wave reaches a particular location, high tide occurs; low tide corresponds to the lowest part of the wave, or its trough. The difference in height between the high tide and the low tide is called the tidal range.
These ocean tides play a crucial role in our ecosystem and economy. They help in the navigation of ships, by raising the water level close to the shore and helping ships reach harbors safely. The ocean tides also help the fisherman in catching fishes as it helps the marine creatures to come closer to the shores.Apart from this, they are also needed in keeping pollution in control, by desilting the sediments and in removing polluted water from river estuaries.
The ocean tides play a very significant role in providing a renewable source of power and many countries like the US, China are harnessing the ocean tides to generate electricity.
Why are the Ocean tides changing and why is it worrying?
The sea level rise in the past and future has been due to various local factors like: ground settling, upstream flood control, erosion, regional ocean currents, and whether the land is still rebounding from the compressive weight of Ice Age glaciers. Global mean sea level has risen about 8–9 inches (21–24 centimeters) since 1880. The rising water level is mostly due to a combination of meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets and thermal expansion of seawater as it warms.
In some ocean basins, sea level has risen as much as 6-8 inches (15-20 centimeters) since the start of the satellite record. Regional differences exist because of natural variability in the strength of winds and ocean currents, which influence how much and where the deeper layers of the ocean store heat.
Today, the ocean absorbs about 90 percent of the heat generated by rising emissions from industry. Still, the excessive heat and energy which warms the ocean changes the earth’s temperature and leads to unparalleled cascading effects sea-level rise, marine heat waves, and ocean acidification (that is when rising levels of carbon dioxide in the seas slowly kill all marine life).
The livelihood of a significant number of people in the world who are dependent on the oceans. And also the nations are surrounded by oceans and facing a possible threat of displacement due to the rise in ocean tides due to climate change.
How are we preventing ocean tide rise?
In March, a historic treaty crucial for enforcing the 30×30 pledge made by countries at the UN biodiversity conference in December, to protect a third of the sea (and land) by 2030 was signed by various countries. Covering almost two-thirds of the ocean that lies outside national boundaries, the treaty will provide a legal framework for establishing vast marine protected areas (MPAs) to protect against the loss of wildlife and share out the genetic resources of the high seas. It will establish a conference of the parties (Cop) that will meet periodically and enable member states to be held to account on issues such as governance and biodiversity.