Researchers: World's fish to get smaller as oceans warm
Bottom-dwelling fish such as cod could be affected most as oxygen levels decline in the oceans.
October 3rd, 2012
09:06 AM ET

Researchers: World's fish to get smaller as oceans warm

Be prepared for smaller fish.

That's the warning from researchers at the University of British Columbia, who say that we could see the maximum body weight of fish shrink by as much as 20% by the middle of the century, according to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

They blame global warming, which is heating up the world's oceans. Warm water holds less oxygen than cold water.

“A warmer and less-oxygenated ocean, as predicted under climate change, would make it more difficult for bigger fish to get enough oxygen, which means they will stop growing sooner,” Daniel Pauly, lead investigator in the University of British Columbia's Sea Around Us Project and co-author of the study, said in a statement.

The researchers looked at more than 600 species of fish around the world and used computer modeling to determine how the lower availability of oxygen would affect them. More than 75% of the species are expected to see a loss in size.

The models showed the greatest decrease in average size would be in the Indian Ocean, 24%. The Atlantic could see fish sizes fall by 20% and the Pacific by 14%.

Across all oceans, tropical regions are expected to see a decrease in fish size of 20%, the report said.

Among individual species, the biggest reductions in size can be expected in the Pacific, the researchers reported.

Because oxygen levels decrease at depth in the oceans, the size decrease is expected to affect fish that live at lower depths more. Those include popular species for human consumption, including cod, haddock, whiting and halibut.

The researchers also said that populations of bigger species of fish could be expected to migrate toward the poles in search of colder waters with more oxygen.

When coupled with the effects of humans on the oceans, such as overfishing and pollution, the researchers said the world could see a reduction in its protein supply.

“We were surprised to see such a large decrease in fish size,” William Cheung, an assistant professor at the university and the study's lead author, said in a statement.

"The unexpectedly big effect that climate change could have on body size suggests that we may be missing a big piece of the puzzle of understanding climate change effects in the ocean,” Cheung said.

Study: Ocean changes expected to hurt shellfish

Scientists: To save reef, kill starfish

Why we should farm the ocean

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Filed under: Global Warming • News
soundoff (149 Responses)
  1. Bob Mayes

    This article is an example of a journalist that should work for a non-news type publication. What an insult to our intelligence. Not too long ago everyone feared an ice age coming, now we have a heat wave. All totally nonsense. Stop wasting our time and get to work being a journalist with an investigative approach based on fair and balanced reporting. Fox News, thank you for setting the bar for journalism to aspire.

    October 5, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  2. Bill42

    Good, then it will take longer for them to reach market size and perhaps they will have a chance to breed before sucked up by the factory boats. When I was a kid I could go to the Ocean View Pier in Norfolk VA for a $1 and catch flounder the size of dinner platters all day long, If it was not 8 inch across we threw them back. Cod and Halibut were affordable and of no particular note other than "good fish". Got news for you people, fish been shrinking for a long time for other reasons and a few have all but vanished. I serously laugh out loud at people eating what was once trash fish they now give fancy re-names too and paying through the nose. Point is global warming is the last thing that is to be worried about concerning our fisheries. But whatever. If they just would have said "mankind should limit within reason the effect we have on the enviroment for our own long term well being and by the way the fish will love us for doing it! " I would have been on-board 100%.

    October 3, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  3. Insanity007

    Is Michele cutting back on their calories like she did with the high school students?

    October 3, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  4. Rae Ann Pointer

    Hopefully the worms get smaller too.

    October 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  5. Rae Ann Pointer

    How small are the fish gonna get? Will we be able to have pet sharks and Orcas? Baby blue whales in my fish tank?

    October 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  6. Rae Ann Pointer

    No doubt the price for fish will stay the same as the portions get smaller. They will call them "gourmet".

    October 3, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  7. Rae Ann Pointer

    I'm melting, melting, melting...all my beautiful wickedness...

    Oh oh its TOO HOT, too hot, TOO HOT lady, gotta run for shelter, gotta run for shade...

    October 3, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  8. Rae Ann Pointer

    Talk about a fish story...

    October 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  9. eddie2010

    I wonder if this claim is backed by the fossil record – after all this is not the first time the Earth has been this hot.

    October 3, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  10. BS

    Well, since the global land/sea surface temperature has not changed for the past 12 years, I suppose we have an extra 12 years before the fish shrink....

    October 3, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  11. lovUSA

    How about the mermaids out there from Discovery channel ??

    October 3, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  12. eddantes

    "Save the planet" wrong statement, the statement should read save the humans. Planet earth will still be here and it would rejuvenate itself after the human race is gone.

    October 3, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  13. SoArizona

    So the over fishing of the oceans would not be a contributing factor or the actual blame.

    October 3, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  14. little joe

    That's why I stopped swimming in the ocean,

    October 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  15. JT

    The bottom of the ocean will be the same temperature it's always been – nearly freezing. Just saw an off the cuff statistic that 75-90% of the ocean is between 0 and 2 degrees Celcius.

    The article mentions effects to bottom dwelling fish – they are already adapted to low oxygen environments. The depth at which DO is lowest occurs near the bottom of the photic zone... where these fish typically live. It's highest at the surface, where mixing and photosynthesis add lots of oxygen. It tapers off as depth increases because there is less light for photosynthesis and less mixing from wind/waves. When you reach the bottom of the photic zone, there is really nothing adding oxygen to the water any more, but the DO content starts to climb back up because the water temperature drops significantly by the time you reach this depth (because there's no sunlight and no mixing).

    So temperature does affect DO – but not really as much as mixing. The fish are perfectly capable of spending time in deep water – where there won't be much of a change at all.

    October 3, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • WASP

      @JT: one down fall of your idea, however well thoughtout is the fact fish that are native to the upper level of the ocean where oxygen levels will be lost can't survive the pressures of the lower depths of the ocean. you can bring fish from the bottom up and they will survive, but can't take from the top down because they wouldn't be able to see and would be crushed by the increased pressure and lack of oxygen.
      these people have it correct, fish will suffer and inturn so will nations that rely on the ocean to feed it's people.

      October 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  16. magnum12

    The Bible states 33% of the fish will die.

    October 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I guess shrinking in size by roughly 20% is close enough....right?

      October 3, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  17. ug

    Sure...and the oceans are rising also...prove it!

    October 3, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • NoMan

      By releasing a study based on experimental data to be tested by their peers, they are in the process of doing just that.

      October 3, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
      • Rae Ann Pointer

        The sky is falling the sky is falling.

        October 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • ricciap

      Satellite altimeter and coastal tide gauge data show rising sea levels since 1870. During the 20th century, sea level rose an average of 7 inches after 2,000 years of relatively little change.

      October 3, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
      • BS

        Sea level rise has been steady throughout the past 100 or so years of exponential growth in CO2 emissions. There is absolutely no correlation between manmaed CO2 emissions and sea level rise. The University of Colorado compiles the data, and anyone can verify this.

        October 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • ricciap

      @BS, I disagree. Satellite observations available since the early 1990s provide more accurate sea level data with nearly global coverage. This satellite altimetry data set shows that since 1993, sea level has been rising at a rate of around 3 mm year, significantly higher than the average during the previous half century. This aligns with the last few decades of rapid global warming. The two major causes of global sea level rise are thermal expansion of the oceans (water expands as it warms) and the loss of land-based ice due to increased melting, both of which are caused by global warming. And an increasing number of scientific organizations now have enough evidence to conclude that the last few decades of rapid global warming are caused by man-made sources including, of course, CO2. So CO2 and sea level rise are indeed linked.

      October 3, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
      • BS

        Actually, what you say is only true if you stopped looking at the data in 2003. There was a tiny increase in the rate of rise for about 10 years. Then the following 10 years, it reverted to the mean. It was simple, seemingly random, fluctuations.

        The global warming community was particularly proud of themselves when they came out with that "proof". Good luck finding any of them to talk about the past 10 years. But you can still go look at the University of Colorado data and see for yourself. They graph it and you can see it visually. Or you can download the data and analyze it as much as you want.

        October 3, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • ricciap

      @BS – I did look at the University of Colorado study, thanks, and likewise, what you say is true only if you stop looking at data prior to the last 6 to 8 years. If you consider data only from the last 6 to 8 years, the mean sea level rise will appear lower because your mean will be affected by the downward spikes in 2008 and 2011. Looking at the longer-term trend going back to 1993, you see a steady sea level rise of about 3.1 mm per year. Climate change takes place over scales of time, so when you analyze data, it’s important to consider all data from the overall length of time studied, rather than just an isolated short period of time within the overall timeframe. Drawing conclusions based on an isolated shorter period of time is akin to saying, “I haven’t had any health problems in the last five years, so therefore, I’m never going to have any health problems.” I’m certainly not comfortable with that approach.

      October 3, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
      • BS

        I took the raw data and trended it over various time periods. The slope of the first derivative (i.e. acceleration) over the entire data set (early 90s through 2012) is virtually zero. If you take out the last 2 years (the big drop and sudden increase), the slope is zero. There is no denying the data.

        October 3, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  18. The Real Tom Paine

    Remember, folks, reason and science changes things, even the wilfull ingnorance of the religious fanatics: it makes them angrier.

    October 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • DeusEtPatria

      I am, what you would call, a religious fanatic. When you find proof, of this political scam which lets the government get their way, I will become a happy-go-lucky atheistic liberal. I find it hilarious that people take the last 80 years, and just because the temperature is rising thinks they can deduce that our "carbon emissions" somehow is causing it. I mean, it's not like global temperatures rise and fall through the centuries, and we are just now coming out of the post-middle age ice age...

      October 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

        Since when is proof of any concern to a religious fanatic?

        October 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
      • greg90814

        Wait... you said Ice Age... wasn't the world only created 6000 or so years ago? There hasn't been an ice age since then...

        October 3, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
      • jennymay

        What is the harm in being cautious when it comes to global warming and it's subsequent effects? How is it out of the realm of possibility that on our over populated earth, which is not some open frontier but a closed environment, where consumption is richly rewarded and desired, where smog warnings are prevalent, how is it not at all possible that there would be an effect on the environment? Isn't it better to be cautious of these things that pretend that we can let the garbage and smog pile up until that is all that is left? Where is the foresight to leave the earth better for the generations to come for hopefully thousands of years? Think for a minute of the garbage produced by 300 million people, imagine that for a minute. Where do you think it goes? Such selfish thinking.

        October 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
      • DeusEtPatria

        Very funny. I do enjoy your lack to provide any counter argument.

        Anyway, I'm not sure if you realize this Piper, but generally when one debates a topic you bring up evidence (or, "proof") to support your argument, rather than merely attacking the fact that I am a Christian (which is some sort of logical fallacy or another, 7th grade logic is rather hazy at the moment). I invite you to look up a few websites, such as Sustainable Oregon and The Global Warming Hoax (.com). Overall, it is very hard to find data that hasn't been tainted by Al Gore and his friends, but you can find it. It really is amazing what some scientists will say, when their pay check (or grant) comes from the government.

        Just to sum up my stance, I believe that although the planet is currently warming, it is due to natural causes and cycles that have occurred over the life of this world. It (the warming) is not the product of human action, and that that theory is a push by the government to create a crisis, allowing them to grab for more power.

        October 3, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
      • DeusEtPatria

        JennyMay: I do whole heatedly agree that we need to take better care of our planet, but not by putting caps on C02 emissions and the like. We definitely do need to reduce fishing, stop the foolish destruction of the rainforests and preserve the many animal species we currently have, not because of global warming, but because it is our duty (and I want my great, great, great, great grandchildren to enjoy the "natural" side of this planet as much as I do).

        October 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • MDAT

      Deus,It is not natural.

      October 3, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
      • MDAT

        And Co2 is responsible.

        October 3, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
      • BS

        Links to that skepticalscience website are thrown around like it is the ultimate authority on global warming. I've looked at some of their "proofs" and found glaring logical and scientific flaws. I'm not the type to go so far as to say that manmade carbon emissions are not impacting our climate (the greenhouse theory itself seems pretty reasonable to me), but it's quite clear that there is a massive attempt to pretend the impact is greater than it really is, even as the data says otherwise.

        October 3, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
      • BS

        I see links to that skepticalscience website all the time with people acting like it is the definitive authority on global warming. In reality, I have found numerous logical and scientific flaws in may of their "proofs".

        I don't claim manmade CO2 emissions are not impacting the global climate, but it is quite clear that there is a major effort to exaggerate the impact those emissions are having. And skepticalscience, for whatever reason, is part of that effort.

        If you want an example of one of the flaws, sceptical science claims that global climate models are accurate because the models have been shown to accurately reproduce the historical record. Well, in reality, all predictive models are purposely tuned to reproduce the historical record. So saying that proves it is accurate at predicting the future is not a true statement. The accuracy of a model is determined by its ability to predict the future, and its ability to replicate the past is not a legitimate way to measure it's accuracy.

        October 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Rae Ann Pointer

      Reason and science change nothing. They only describe change.

      October 3, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Ted

      Yes it is a shame what the climate religion fanatics are doing to science.

      October 3, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  19. kendallpeak

    I fish alot. When I fish in cold water, I catch smaller species of fish such as trout. When I fish in warm water lakes, I tend to catch bigger fish such as bass and catfish.

    October 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Tom Baker

      *facepalm* That's not...

      never mind. I don't even know where to start with you.

      October 3, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
      • Mark of Tennessee


        October 3, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  20. Bill

    This means it will be really tough to beat some of the fishing contests on record (largest bass, largest trout, etc)

    October 3, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  21. snowdogg

    Increasing population, dwindling food supplies, water shortages, climate change, social unrest, religious fanaticism – what else could possibly go wrong? Oh, what about space alien invasion!

    October 3, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Bill

      I like your Westy

      October 3, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • The Eternal Satyr

      That's next. The government has been planning it for years now.

      October 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • WASP

      @snow: that would truly fix a lot of those problems you just mentioned.
      1) lower human population
      2) unify governments................well until we start fighting over who gets what tech from them.
      3) more food to go around due to lower population
      4) no government...............hahahahahhahahahaha
      5) no religion seeing they couldn't put enough spin to keep even the dimest fanatic convinced there aren't any aliens. lmfao

      October 3, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  22. Steve

    Don't be misled. Many millions of years ago the oceans were much warmer than today; with an abundance of aquatic life. The land also had lush thick forests and plants that supported an array of (large) reptilian, insects and animal species. This is evident in our fossil records and all the oil and coal deposits found all around the world.
    There may be some truth that some fish species may be getting smaller because of less oxygenation. But just as likely, there may be other contributing factors such as predation or lack of, salinity levels, chemical, dietary, over fishing and other marine environmental impact on the ecosystem.
    One must also ponder why fishermen were routinely reeling in 500+ lbs. tunas from the ocean about 60-70 years ago. And today, maybe 75lbs. Could it be that we are just over fishing the oceans. What do you think! Call me hypocrite, but I still plan on eating fish. Sorry!

    October 3, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • FishDoc

      Hey genius, most of the oil didn't come from "large animals" it came from plankton such as diatoms

      October 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
      • Steve

        Yes you are right. But it was all part of the ecosystem thriving on each other.

        October 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  23. me

    Not true moron. and the libs are saving this country as the brain dead republicans continue to disregard science.

    October 3, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • matt

      Not true moron? What a brilliant rebuttal!

      October 3, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  24. Atheism is the Path to Ignorance

    Prayer, it changes things.

    October 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Tom Baker

      No, it really doesn't. Slacktivism at its finest.

      October 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • AndriconBoy

      A few quick items:

      1) Demonstrate how atheism is the path to ignorance. Because one of the underlying principals of being an Atheist is that there is not suficient evidence for the self-asserted truth of any religion. So I fail to see how the continual quest for answers, truth (real truth, not supernatural assertions), understanding and knowledge is in ANY way ignorant.
      2) If prayer 'changes things,' like you imply, why doesn't god regenerate the limbs of amputees and why does god murder millions of children in the womb each year through miscarriages despite people praying that their pregnancy be safe and healthy?
      3) The bible asserts the Earth is flat, slavery is OK, selling your daughter inter servitude is acceptable, murdering unruly children is a sufficient punishment, that Cane and Able had children with their mother, and that a virgin gave birth to a supernatural sky-baby who could only get home by allowing himself to be sacrificed to himself, who is is own father and also a ghost but still the same person-being-thingy. I'm sorry... but who were you calling ignorant?

      Thank you.

      October 3, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
      • Atheism is the Path to Ignorance

        All you have done is prove the Word of the LORD to be correct.

        Prayer changes things. And this is proof.

        October 3, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
      • MDAT


        October 3, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
      • AndriconBoy

        Look, Atheism is the Path to Ignorance, not only did you fail miserably to address a single point, but I didn't prove anything about your relig... OH! I get it!
        You're not serious. You're trolling.

        Sorry. Should have picked up on that sooner. But I have to say, it's a pertty convincing impoersonation of the kinds of religious fundie bitshags who like to keep saying something in hopes that if enough people parrot it, it magically becoems true despite all logic, evidence, and reason.

        October 3, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  25. Bob Harris

    Ladies and Gentlemen. Denial is not a river in Egypt. Wake up. Mother Earth is dying. Stop with your stupid statements and realize mega changes are happening on this planet at a rate not seem during mankinds reign. Something has got to give and it will be a disaster to billions of people.

    October 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Jeff

      Bob Harris. Stop being an alarmist. The climate of the Earth now, 10,000 years ago, or 1000 years ago is not "normal." There is no "normal." The Earth's climate has changed radically and rapidly many times before, and will continue to do so whether man contributes or not. The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs did not kill the earth. Get over yourself.

      October 3, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
      • R Watson

        get over YOURSELF and turn off Faux Spews. the Science is in and our climate is in trouble. there is no debate unless you have Hannity and Rush on all the time.

        October 3, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
      • The Real Tom Paine

        The problem is what we are dealing with right now. Were you there logging data 10,000 years ago, so we can trust your breezy dismissal at face value? I doubt it, unless you have a time machine in your garage. Since a large portion of the human population depends upon the oceans for food, this is disturbing to say the least: almost as disturbing as your proud display of ingnorance.

        October 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The Earth is not your mother nor is it dying. It’s changing.

      October 3, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Ted

      Hello chicken little. Do you need help with your tin foil hat?

      October 3, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  26. tct

    On the upside they'll be caught already cooked which saves on energy costs as well as being more convenient.

    October 3, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  27. AndriconBoy

    If you're going to refute scientific evidence and insult people who form an opinion based on conclusive data and think preserving our world is a good thing, instead of wasting your time being a petty jack/\ss who acts in complete opposition of your religion's teachings, maybe you should just go pray to your magic, invisible, floating sky man that he brings us logic and reason.
    Yes yes, go talk to an unseen being with magical powers that only you can hear in your head, and pray to it to bring the rest of us "insane fools" the logic and reason you obviously have in spades.

    October 3, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • JR

      You could use some help, child.

      October 3, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

        Are you a priest?

        October 3, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • AndriconBoy


      If you're suggesting the help I need is religious – trust me, there's NOTHING religion has to offer that I can't get without it. Religion offers nothing of help, but everything of intellectual slavery. How is that helpful?

      October 3, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  28. dd

    Why does the US media publish such garbage? Fish MAY shrink! This is not science. This is scaremongering fraud used to get taxpayer funded research to create more scares and more money. Obama has created an environment of intellectual bankruptcy. The news media has become the equivalent of the banking crisis which will now call the truth crisis. Take a journalist to lunch are your local zoo and ask the lions if they were too fatty.

    October 3, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • jerry

      dude you're all over the place, take your meds.

      October 3, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • New South: Just Like The Old South but Dumber


      October 3, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      Yes, we admit its a plot. Scientists all over the world wake up every morning trying to figure out if they can come up with something new to annoy you and make you feel persecuted. Get over yourself. This is how progress is made, not by sitting back and waiting for it to magically appear in a vision.

      October 3, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  29. lefty avenger

    All Environmentalists and left wing progressive intellectuals know that Human beings are killing the planet earth with global warming due to unchecked and out of control oil consumption and unregulated manufacturing. The truth of the matter is Humans will destroy earth and the right wing corporate masters are too ignorant, greedy, religious(sic) and short sighted to see any damage or problem whatsoever. We're doomed because of human ignorance and greed, two unlimited qualities.

    October 3, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  30. Member

    Hmmm... and I always thought it was Cold water that caused shrinkage...

    October 3, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • tct

      That's true for your screenname.

      October 3, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  31. johnquepublique

    So who is going to put a stop to these hot water fissures in the bottom of the ocean that contribute to the water's warming? Sounds like a job for Uncle Al and his band of psuedo-scientists!!!

    October 3, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • me

      hey – the fish will shrink just like you brain has through generations of inbreeding........

      October 3, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  32. HenryC

    This is strange, it is a known fact that warm water increases fresh water fish size. Many Nuclear Power plants use lakes and streams as coolant and warm the areas. Larger fish are always the result. Maybe fresh water gets more oxygenation?

    October 3, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Reality Check

      This is based on a computer model, which already has an desired outcome.

      October 3, 2012 at 11:01 am |
      • WilltheFree

        I love all the model-bashing going on here. There's nothing wrong with a computer model, and we are getting better and better at them. If you don't want to believe that, then never believe the weather forecast.

        Regardless, back in ancient times the oxygen content of the air was much higher, so that could have helped offset the warmer water. Reasonable questions deserve reasonable answers, not off-the-cuff model bashing.

        October 3, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • KR

      Not warm water due to sunlight, but warm oceans due to the presence of increased CO2 in the atmosphere. The more CO2 in proportion to oxygen, the more warm it is and therefore the fish will take in more CO2 than oxygen.

      Imagine yourself caught inside a house in fire. Oxygen is depleted quickly inside that house. Even if you are not caught directly in the fire you still are advised to get out because you need oxygen which is depleted inside the house , if the house is burned.

      October 3, 2012 at 11:13 am |
      • Noocrat

        And also due to sunlight... Water traps more heat than ice because of lights reduced speed traveling through water. Ice on the other hand is more "reflective", more light bounces off and less heat is retained as a result. However, as the amount of ice on the poles reduces, there's more water retaining more heat, which results in an overall warming affect on the oceans, though especially at the poles.

        October 3, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • michael

      Not always. Warm water increases cellular metabolism which in turn increase physiological functions such as growth, but as metabolism increases the demand for oxygen also increases, and in a low oxygen environment fish growth is actually slow as there's not enough oxygen to support a higher metabolism. It's like operating an internal-combusttion engine; in order to go faster you must burn more fuel but you must also have more oxygen in order to burn the fuel. That's why race car engines have large manifolds to increase airflow into the engine. But having been trained and employed as a fishery biologist I suspect the smaller size is more likely the result of "growth overfishing." Simply put, if you remove large fish from a population, you're also removing the genes for faster growth and larger size from the population, leaving the smaller fish to reproduce and pass on their smaller genes.

      October 3, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  33. Ilikefish

    This is religion's, especially Islam's, fault.

    October 3, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  34. Pareick

    But what about fossil record that show huge marine life if the warmer oceans of ancient Earth? Many are small but many are also huge. Look at Megalodon for example. That was a huge shark that lived in those warmer oceans.

    October 3, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  35. Oakspar77777

    What this model reveals is not so much a decrease in fish size as a migration of sized fish to cooler waters.

    What they fail to mention, however, is that an increase in temperature is a boon to phytoplankton (sea plants), which then serves as a carbon sink in the abscence of sufficient zoaplankton (mirco-critters) to eat them.

    October 3, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • me

      I imagine all the metrics you cite are embedded in the model!

      October 3, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

        The faith in your comment is not very scientific.

        October 3, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  36. Jack

    Developing countries like China and India and others soon will be contributing extremely huge amounts of green house gases than what is being emitted now. They deserve to drive nice cars and live in nice houses with electricity just as much as us in the US. I'm afraid we are all screwed. It inevitable. We humans are not smart enough to keep from destroying our only planet.

    October 3, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  37. Jack

    Gestalt theory holds that the whole is > the sum of it's parts. The sad fact is that we stupid human beings don't know all the parts of global warming. We don't have any idea of when the heat is coming but I'm sure it's sooner than we think. We are only smart enough to destroy our planet which is not too bright.

    October 3, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Scott

      Aptly put; the smartest and dumbest animal on the planet. We know where the heat is coming from, and we know what materials are more likely to keep it in our atmosphere. We know how to stop, we might even know how to remediate, but we lack the will to do it.

      It is the greatest crime ever committed by an entire species, the destruction of this absolute jewel of an ecosystem.

      October 3, 2012 at 10:37 am |
      • Oakspar77777

        Global warming is not a threat to life on Earth – it is a threat to the current level of human occupation.

        (0) Man is clever, tool using animal, in balance with the environment (both hunting and hunted).

        (1) Step one, we remove selection from our species by providing for the weak. This stagnates our development as a species and causes our population to grow.

        (2) Step two, our population grows to fit our resources.

        (3) Step three, we either consume all resources, suffer population collapse, and begin again with a lower population on a planet that recovers resources over time (return to point 0) OR

        (3) Step three, we innovate to constantly exploit new resources.

        (4) Step four, repeat step three ad infinitium.

        Mankind is always going to be on the verge of sociatal colapse, but so long as we continue to innovate towards new resources, that colapse will be held at bay (and that colapse only delays the process for a few generations).

        If fisheries colapse, sea levels maximize, and super storms circle the Earth, humanity will endure and eventually rebuild. Global warming does not have the potential to be our extinction event – it merely has the ability to cause sociatal colapse (like the fall of the Romans).

        October 3, 2012 at 10:52 am |
      • jennymay

        Oaksparr.. natural selection was done away with when people no longer had to spend their time providing everything for themselves, hunting, gathering, building shelter, protecting themselves, etc. You can't say providing assistance to people inhibits natural selection unless you are also going to include people who are in a position they are in because of someone they know. You also have to include those who seek medical care. You think the unfit person sitting at a desk all day, although they may be skilled in a certain task, absolutely contains the genes required for the healthiest, most viable humans?

        October 3, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Sean

      That's right genius, apply some psychological theory to hard science and voila – more garbage. Get back to us when you have some knowledge of science and not just some psycho-babble based on your belief system and green religious faith.

      October 3, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  38. Scott

    Posters to CNN are typically on the border of imbecility.

    All, this is science, this is fact. The current cycle is attributable to humans dumping trillions of tons of otherwise secured greenhouse gases into the environment. If you believe otherwise, you ignore the obvious. And, what's best, we will reach a tipping point (if we haven't already) where the cycle will accelerate beyond any hope of remediation. We face, if not an extinction level event, then at least an event that will greatly reduce our populations and most likely result in the collapse of our technological, civil society.

    October 3, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Sean

      No Scott, all this is not settled science, man is not causing measurable change to global climate, and we are not facing some planetary doomsday. It is all computer modeling. Models only produce results that the modeler designed the model to predict – they do not provide evidence of what is actually occurring. If you think they do then you are ignorant about modeling. Also, all the AGW models fail when they are asked to predict results, fail when comparing their predicted results against the physical evidence, fail to consider all the likely climate forcings, fail to get the feedbacks correct and make assumptions about the feedbacks which are inconsistent with the evidence, and they fail to correctly apply the physics when modeling the earths heat transfer.

      This fish study's conclusions are also all based on more modeling. The half baked junk scientists who produced this report have gathered zero physical evidence – this article is all speculation with no basis in fact.

      The only thing in this forum Scott, that is imbecilic, is the lack of critical thinking skills demonstrated by persons like yourself.

      October 3, 2012 at 10:51 am |
      • Nick


        It's apparent to me that you haven't actually read any literature regarding climate change. If you have then you likely wouldn't have written the paragraph you just did. To ignore the evidence that humans are influencing the climate is incredibly ignorant and irresponsible. Please read a book or two then get back to us.

        October 3, 2012 at 11:06 am |
      • Sean

        Nick I have read extensively on the topic and I hold advanced degrees in physics to the table. Since we are judging each other, what are your qualifications? Also if you want to do complain about my paragraph then next time bring some facts and identify a specific issue that you are refuting. I look forward to the comedy – bring it.

        October 3, 2012 at 11:13 am |
      • me

        physics degree vs almost 100% climate scientists that believe in man made global warming. I think I will go with the latter.

        btw – I have a masters degree in engineering – but I am not at all an expert on climate change.

        October 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
      • JtM

        Sean, so you are pretty much saying you have no background in this topic to qualify yourself as someone in the know... Maybe if you said you had a degree in Earth Sciences, Chemistry, or even Biology you might have made a better case... As for your position on global warming not happening, the vast, VAST majority of research points in the direction of a man made influence. I'd wager that you are blinded by some ideological group 'giving' you your opinion that you are clinging to.

        My degree is in Microbiology and yes we studied how the environment affected bacteria.

        October 3, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
      • Jack Watcher

        Sean, I am retired after thirty years as a professional scientist. A marine biologist, in fact. Now my area of expertise was in shallow water benthic community structure so I am not too much more qualified to comment on the article than, say, an individual with "an advanced degree in physics". However, if you do have such a degree then you should be able to read the literature with some understanding. But since you apparently are unable to do so, let me give you a small précis. First, the overwhelming evidence indicates that there is global climate change due to warming. Second a preponderance of studies suggest that such warming is caused by human action. Note my choice of words. Science is seldom absolute and good scientists hesitate to say that anything is definitive when looking at cause and effect. But the prevailing studies strongly indicate global warming. Now, if that doesn't sit well with your "advanced degree in physics" view of the planet, well you should pull you head out of that black hole you apparently have it stuck in.

        October 3, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
      • Ted

        JTM & Jack watcher – I sure that your biology backgrounds prepare you well to talk about topics like fish but you clearly know absolutely nothing at all about climate science if you think that physics is not the core science required to model the earth's climate system. It requires an expert understanding of both thermodynamics and statistics.

        Your quaint argument that "Maybe if you said you had a degree in Earth Sciences, Chemistry, or even Biology you might have made a better case" only shows your own ignorance. Maybe you should go and tell that to Michael Mann, let him know that he is not qualified to be conducting climate science as he only holds advanced degrees in physics as also claimed by Sean above. When you done with Mann, make sure you talk to the rest of the climate scientists who are modeling the climate system as most of them have physics backgrounds as well.

        Also your fallacious calls for science by consensus raises serious doubts of your claims to be scientists, or at minimum shows that you are very poor scientists.

        October 3, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Rich

      My, aren't we an arrogant one, calling everyone else an imbecile. Let's dissect your comment, shall we?

      "All, this is science, this is fact."

      In itself, that statement illustrates your ignorance of science. This is not fact, just because it uses the scientific method. Facts must be indisputable. Those facts must fit a theory. The THEORY is not the same as a fact. Even if the theory fits the facts, it is not automatically correct; there may be other factors, other FACTS, that alter the outcome. You accept the results of a computer model as fact – that is ignorant. Any database guy can tell you – garbage in, garbage out. The modeling must be based on acknowledged facts, and even then it is only a model – not fact.

      "The current cycle is attributable to humans dumping trillions of tons of otherwise secured greenhouse gases into the environment."

      And your indisputable evidence for that statement is...? A "cycle" by definition has occured before and will occur again – that's why it's a cycle. Human activity doesn't occur in a vacuum; it is a PART of the current cycle. Yet you seem to assume it is the whole affair, ignoring natural phenomena like, I dunno... VOLCANISM, which spews far more greenhouse gases into the environment than we could ever hope to.

      There is evidence to support the theory that the climate is changing. But this is being used as if it were factual, in order to control human behavior – without the supporting evidence that human activity is responsible.

      Now, I like clean air and blue skies as much as the next guy. I'd love to see us develop a technology that gave us power away from oil, gas and coal, maily because they are a finite resource and one day WILL run out. Once they're gone, they're gone. Who knows what our descendants could use it for, how they may curse us for "burning it all up"? But for now – for RIGHT now, there is NO alternative energy that even comes close to providing the same bang for the buck. Nothing close. Not wind, not solar, not biofuels. Not even nuclear, which has its own issues. NOTHING. Perhaps nuclear fusion will be a reality in 10 or 20 or 50 years, perhaps not.

      For now, we burn fossil fuels, and look for the next energy source. Fearmongering the issue, as you do, based on flimsy, created or nonexistent evidence and treating it as gospel solves nothing.

      October 3, 2012 at 11:14 am |
      • KR

        I disagree with your arguments. It is not possible at this point for the human mind to entirely comprehend the workings of the entire atmosphere and its effect on the environment. So we cannot wait for indisputable proof. Indisputable proof may just come in form of extinction of man.

        Consider this : Let us say you play a sport and get injured in your foot. Now it hurts. You ignore it thinking it will go away. After 2 days it hurts badly. At this point wont it be a good idea to go see a doctor because you may have broken a bone. If you wait for indisputable proof before taking action, the proof may come in the from of permanent debilitation of your leg.

        Same thing here. Species are becoming extinct. More droughts seen. etc etc. So it is time to act man, rather than wait for indisputable proof.

        October 3, 2012 at 11:34 am |
      • me

        Your diatribe is so fkn dumb................ not even worth the effort!

        October 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
      • Harmbringer

        @kr – "Species are becoming extinct"

        to quote a wise man. Let me tell you about endangered species, alright? Saving endangered species is just one more arrogant attempt by humans to control nature… Over 90%, way over 90%, of all the species that have ever lived on this planet, ever lived, are gone… We didn’t kill them all… They disappear these days at a rate of 25 a day, regardless of our behaviour – George Carlin.

        October 3, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
      • ricciap

        Rich, with all due respect, tell me how the following recent developments are based on “flimsy, created or nonexistent evidence.” On July 10, 2012, hundreds of scientists from 48 countries released their annual State of the Climate report, which, for the first time in its history, shows that 2011 weather extremes are connected to MAN-MADE global warming. The scientists state that all greenhouse gases are on the rise, at the largest and highest levels they’ve seen since they’ve been keeping records. They state that they are not able to detect natural rises in greenhouse gases, that evidence shows that the rises are due to MAN-MADE increases in carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. And they state that global warming is accelerating. And in August 2012, the American Meteorological Society officially released its new statement on climate change: There is unequivocal evidence that Earth’s lower atmosphere, ocean, and land surface are warming; sea level is rising; and snow cover, mountain glaciers, and Arctic sea ice are shrinking. The dominant cause of the warming since the 1950s is HUMAN ACTIVITIES.

        October 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
      • Harmbringer

        @ricciap – "2011 weather extremes are connected to MAN-MADE global warming. The scientists state that all greenhouse gases are on the rise, at the largest and highest levels they’ve seen since they’ve been keeping records."

        I see.. do they also happen to mention exactly how long they've "been keeping records"? hmm? Given the Thermometer wasn't evewn intented till 1724..

        that means at best they can have 288 years of soil provable temp data. Their records of storms is at best 100, 150 years old..

        so.. when you compare lets be kind and say 300 years of accurate, provable climate history.. then try to compare that history, to a global system thats been running for 4.5 BILLION years..

        would not one have to question the over all value of said records to begin with?

        October 3, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
      • ricciap

        @Harmbringer – Temperature records have been kept since 1850. But long before human record keeping, temperatures from the past left their traces in tree rings, coral reefs and ice cores. This evidence allows scientist to understand the Earth’s surface temperatures over previous centuries and millennia. The particularly rapid heating of the last few decades is unprecedented. And what makes it different from any other in history is that man-made causes, not natural causes, can now be identified as the cause. Primary sources of carbon dioxide include the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas; man-made deforestation (the burning and cutting of about 34 million acres of trees each year); and vehicle emissions. Primary man-made sources of methane include fossil fuel extraction, agriculture, and the decay of organic waste in landfills. Primary man-made sources of nitrous oxide include the use of fertilizers in agriculture; the production of nylon; and the production of nitric acid, which is used in agricultural and industrial industries.

        October 3, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
      • BS

        They say global warming is accellerating. The data says it is not. The global sea/land temperature anomaly today is the same as it was 12 years ago (i.e. 12 years and no warming). Sea level rise has been constant for 100 years with no discernable change as CO2 emissions have increased exponentially. If you don't believe me, NASA compiles the global temp data monthly, and the University of Colorado compiles the sea level data.

        October 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
      • ricciap

        I’m also familiar with NASAs temperature data. And it supports other scientific organizations’ conclusions that the temperature has rapidly risen since 1951. In fact, the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio took NASAs temperature data and turned it into an easy-to-process, color-coded visual animation. In this animation, you can easily see the increase in temperature from1880-2011, with a dramatic increase beginning in 1951 and continuing through 2011. Find it online and see for yourself.

        October 3, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
      • BS

        I understand that the earth has warmed over the past 100 years (or whatever timefram you choose). The comment was about that warming supposedly accellerating. Accellerating would mean that temperatures today are warming faster than they were in past decades. In reality, the opposite is true. It's not that hard to look at the data.

        Heck, NASA predicted that 2012 would be the warmest on record. In reality, it may wind up being the 10th or 11th warmest.

        Also if you look at the past 50 years of warming and compare it to the previous 50 years, you get about +0.5C in both periods. That's not accelleration. I know that's sort of cherry picking, but I picked 50 years at random.

        October 3, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  39. SR

    First thing I know that will shrink with increasing temp!

    October 3, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  40. MrHanson

    Well the good news is that CO2 emmisions from America are at a 20 year low and falling thanks to more use of natural gas. And since libs think that it is only America who emits CO2, problem solved.

    October 3, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  41. Smarter than ewe

    Overfishing the waters will also cause a reduction in size. Lets face it between pollution, over fishing and lack of caring for this planet, we'll be eating Soylent Green someday.

    October 3, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  42. CHRIS

    Amazing how scientist can make these claims about the effects of global warming on the oceans when 73% of said oceans still have not been explored.How on earth can you make these claims when we only know little more than 25% of what is actually there?

    October 3, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • SR

      Just like you can talk about sun without going there. Just like you can talk wonders about electricity without having to touch it everyday to do the research!

      October 3, 2012 at 10:20 am |

        That's an amazing assumption..Go figure.We know more about the moon and mars than we do about our own oceans.Yet we spend billions if not trillions of taxpayers dollars(Including my family's)Money to come to a half wit conclusion.Please research further..and comment accordingly.
        Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

        October 3, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Let It Be

      This makes perfect sense. 9 years ago when I was pregnant with my youngest daughter I developed toxemia. This resulted in a lack of oxygen going to her. They delivered her early at 36 weeks because she had stopped growing and they knew this. I guess in knowing this I can see the direct connection between low oxygen levels and how it effects growth.

      October 3, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Jason

      The ocean is one giant fluid body. There's no barrier separating each of those bodies of water so you don't need the map of the entire ocean floor to know anything about the concentrations of matter in the ocean.

      October 3, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • MDAT


      October 3, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  43. Tyler

    Yes, this is a very important fact that has been proven by current data. Less oxygen in warm water means less growth and this is true of most warm water species. Mankind is destroying the home that we have on Earth. Whether you believe God created it or not, we should be protecting it and ignore big oil and big coal who cares about their fat bottom line and greed.

    October 3, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Sean

      The atmosphere does not warm the oceans (ok to be exact its impact is negligible) – it works the other way around. The mass of the oceans far exceeds the mass of the atmosphere by several orders.

      October 3, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  44. J.C.

    Kind of hard to deny the effects of climate change when it's staring at you from your dinner plate. 'Course by then, we'll have bigger problems than small fish.

    October 3, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  45. Shirtsneedlovetoo

    Honestl;y, my shirts shrink, I think maybe global warming is part of that too.
    Honestly CNN, could it hurt to use google a bit and learn something? We are going through both a global warming and cooling, there are the north pole warming up and the south pole region becoming more colder, also you have the gradual movement of the north pole's magnetic field towards Siberia.

    Now, I'm all about the fish shrinking, makes sense, but it's due to the northern warming of the ice releasing fresh water into the ocean thus halting the mid atlantic conveyor, This in turn can cause lack of oxygen population in various parts of the ocean resulting in a serious ice age, but ETs could land, gangum style and tell you all and you'd just think it was from a movie...

    thats about where we are as a society, way to go MSM.

    October 3, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  46. scieng1

    You can take only temperature and oxygen supply as a control basis and make predictions–but not in the real world. A slightly warmer ocean would also grow more plankton and small fish–increasing the food supply for larger fish. Just like fresh water, the fish adjust depth as they need to. There are many other factors involved, but none of these are mentioned, nor the basis for change estimated (1 degree C or 5?).

    October 3, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Lokari

      Increasing the food supply does not offset the size limit imposed by reduced oxygen on a species.

      October 3, 2012 at 10:31 am |
      • BS

        How about genetic adaptation? In a time of decreasing oxygen, fish that pull oxygen more efficiently from the water will survive better. Who's to say that fish won't adapt? (OK, 40 years is a short period for adaptation, especially for large, long-lived fish. But this is still another part of the equation that the study likely ignored.)

        October 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • JT

      I was thinking the same thing... what amount of temperature change are they modeling? A 2 degree change (C) is A LOT but it only changes DO content by about 5-10%.

      And like you said, the fish would simply seek cooler waters at a different depth.

      The only marine ecosystems that really suffer from slight temperature changes are tropical reefs – and while biodiversity might plummet from rising temperatures I'm not sure that smaller fish will necessarily be the outcome. Even if they have less oxygen, they could theoretically still grow to the same size... they are assuming that oxygen is the limiting factor in fish growth. Maybe that's true for the ultimate maximum size a fish can attain – but with overfishing they aren't going to reach that size anyway.

      October 3, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  47. Scientist

    Actually Ben, you miss comprehend the "debate". There is no debate that the Earth is heating up, the debate is whether humans have no effect, some effect or are causing all the effect.
    I am disappointed that the study did not account for the effects of warming on ocean salinity.

    October 3, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  48. Kerry

    Already 50% of the coral reefs have died off and 90% of the sharks have been slaughtered, why not shrinking fish too? It's all part of mankind's destructiveness.

    October 3, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • johhneh

      I would fact check the afformentioned statement.

      October 3, 2012 at 10:01 am |
      • Kerry

        It was in the news.

        October 3, 2012 at 10:02 am |
      • Sean

        It was in the news? You are not too bright, are you Kerry.

        October 3, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • MedicT

      Have you read the reports of unusually warm weather on Mars, derived from Curiosity data? Do you think we are causing global warming on Mars also? LOL

      October 3, 2012 at 10:05 am |
      • right

        Are you comparing weather on Mars to Earth???

        October 3, 2012 at 10:34 am |

        No,Not at all.I'm just saying I think we should discover what's here before we try to seek life and/or resources elsewhere.That's all.Just an opinion.
        Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

        October 3, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • ug

      Prove it...

      October 3, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • DeusEtPatria

      Although I disagree on the overall statistics, I do agree that we need to better take care of our oceans, especially where overfishing is concerned.

      October 3, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • jennymay

      Half of that loss of the coral reef is due to a certain species of starfish that feeds on it

      October 3, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  49. Sean

    CNN reporters brains to shrink 24 percent due to global warming activism and uncritical reporting pf junk science like this story.

    October 3, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Tom Baker

      Junk science? This data was collected accurately and by a repeatable process. It shows results which are both relevant and significant. There is nothing slack about this; the Earth's climate is changing and it is having very measurable effects on delicate ecosystems.

      October 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
      • Ted

        What data Tom – there was no data collected in support of this paper's conclusions, it was all modeling.

        October 3, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  50. Ben

    How irresponsible. Fish could shrink by 20% by 2050. In ten years, the oceans couls start to cool. That is not science. That is not the scientific method. Either you are using science or fearmongering cult behavior. You can't do both.

    October 3, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Starman

      You are in serious need of remedial education. Unfortuntely I don't think a 3rd year or 3rd grade is going to help.

      October 3, 2012 at 10:39 am |
      • ug

        And you need to get back to reality!

        October 3, 2012 at 1:14 pm |


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