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Oceans Day at international climate change conference

As nations from around the world meet in Copenhagen from December 7–18 for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, researchers from the University of Delaware are taking a leading role. A special day co-sponsored by the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, housed at UD, is being set aside during the negotiations to draw attention to the world’s oceans.

As nations from around the world meet in Copenhagen from December 7–18 for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, researchers from the University of Delaware are taking a leading role. A special day co-sponsored by the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, housed at UD, is being set aside during the negotiations to draw attention to the world’s oceans.

Oceans Day, to be held Dec. 14, will highlight the direct link between climate change, ocean health, and human well-being. It will emphasize the urgent need to protect the central role of the oceans in Earth’s life support system and address threats facing coastal communities, especially in developing nations and small island states.

It will bring together in one place the latest scientific understanding about how climate change and increased carbon emissions affect ocean and coastal ecosystems. The event, to be held at the European Environment Agency, will allow experts to address the implications of the emerging Copenhagen agreement for oceans, coasts, and coastal communities.

In addition to the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, the daylong event is co-sponsored by the government of Indonesia and the European Environment Agency. Organizers include 46 other organizations and governments including the Principality of Monaco, the government of the Seychelles, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and World Wildlife Fund.

Speakers will include leaders from around the world, such as Prince Albert II of Monaco, Grenada’s U.N. Ambassador Dessima Williams, and U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration head Jane Lubchenco.

The oceans cover more than 70 percent of Earth’s surface and are being adversely affected by increased levels of global emissions, said Biliana Cicin-Sain, co-chair of the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, and director of UD’s Gerard J. Mangone Center for Marine Policy in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE).

“Climate change is having a profound impact on the world’s oceans,” she said. “Ocean warming directly impacts humans and ocean life, from sea level rise and increased storm intensity to habitat shifts and receding coastlines.”