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According to a study published in Nature Communications, half of the Earth’s oceans will change colour by the year 2100 as a result of global warming.
Blue ocean surfaces are expected to turn a darker blue, said expert Stephanie Dutkiewicz, a research scientist and marine ecologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Meanwhile, green marine habitats could be dyed a darker green.
The colour changes are the result of marine phytoplankton, microscopic organisms that live in the sunlit ocean layers that respond to the effects of man-driven climate change.
Phytoplankton uses the chlorophyll pigment to collect solar radiation into energy, which returns green rays to the environment.
For their part, the large phytoplankton communities act as a biological dye that stains the surface of the ocean green while marine habitats that are empty of phytoplankton are more of a dark blue colour.
“There will be a notable difference in color of 50 percent of the ocean by the end of the 21st century,” Dutkiewicz said in a statement. “It could be very serious. Different types of phytoplankton absorb light differently, and if climate change changes one community of phytoplankton to another, that will also change the types of food webs that can withstand, ”he said.
Using computer models, the team projected that some blue regions of the ocean, including subtropical turns, will become more blue in the coming decades due to a lower presence of phytoplankton in warmer waters.
Also, phytoplankton blooms will become common in the water around the Earth’s poles, suggesting that these regions could have an emerald tone in the coming decades.
Experts said monitoring the colour of the ocean could provide valuable information about the effects of climate change on phytoplankton because these organisms not only form the basis of aquatic food webs, but their photosynthetic processes produce half of the world’s oxygen and retain approximately 10 gigantons of carbon deep in the ocean.
Due to the importance of phytoplankton for Earth’s life support systems, it is alarming that the rise in sea temperature has ended with 40 percent of its population since 1950.
The worrying thing is that if this trend continues to rise, the marine food web will begin to collapse without its fundamental food source. This would affect human dependence on marine species for food, but it could also cause the air to have less oxygen and cause uncontrolled levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
“It is likely that the structure of the phytoplankton community, which strongly affects the optics of the ocean, shows one of the clearest and fastest signs of changes in the base of the marine ecosystem,” experts said.
Maintaining control over this climate-related colour change will allow scientists to estimate the health of the global phytoplankton population, which is crucial for the millions of species that depend on it.
Source: La Verdad Noticias