New Climate Change Research Finds Our Oceans Will Soon Start To Change Colour

Oceans will change colour by the end of the century, as climate change significantly alters phytoplankton in the world’s seas, according to a new study.  As ocean temperatures rise – perhaps as much as 4.8 degrees Fahrenheit in this timeframe – the growth of the plankton will be heightened, making the blues and the greens of the ocean more vibrant, as sunlight interacts with water molecules and the blue part of the spectrum of sunlight hits it. Fewer phytoplankton cause the water to look bluer, while more give it a greener hue.  “The model suggests the changes won’t appear huge to the naked eye, and the ocean will still look like it has blue regions in the subtropics and greener regions near the equator and poles,” says lead author Stephanie Dutkiewicz, a principal research scientist at MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences and the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, in a statement.  “That basic pattern will still be there. But it’ll be enough different that it will affect the rest of the food web that phytoplankton supports.”  Areas that are already quite blue, especially subtropical areas (such as those between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn) will become even bluer, according to the study.  Regions that are nutrient-rich, including those near the poles, “may turn even deeper green, as warmer temperatures brew up larger blooms of more diverse phytoplankton.”

Photo Credit: MIT

 

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Scott Fox
Scott Fox