The world’s oceans will start looking even more blue and green by the end of this century, a study out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests.
Researchers found climate change will have a significant impact on phytoplankton, causing oceans to change in color, but it won’t be seen by the naked eye, said the study published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications.
Phytoplankton are tiny organisms that play a key role in sustaining the underwater food chain. In the study, researchers developed a model simulating how different species of phytoplankton will grown and interact, and how warming oceans will have an impact.
Their model showed that by 2100, more than half of the world’s oceans will change color.
“It could be potentially quite serious,” said lead author Stephanie Dutkiewicz, a principal research scientist at MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, in a statement. “Different types of phytoplankton absorb light differently, and if climate change shifts one community of phytoplankton to another, that will also change the types of food webs they can support.”
The changes won’t be readily visible but satellites will detect shifts in ocean colors to warn of major changes to marine ecosystems, said the study.
“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,” said Dutkiewicz.
Last month, an analysis of the world’s oceans found they were the warmest on record in 2018, with temperatures rising much faster than previously thought.
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