A recent study warns that climate change is having a drastic effect on the world's oceans.
Climate change affects the world in a wide range of ways, even if you may not notice it where you live. The planet’s oceans are particularly susceptible to the changing climate, and scientists fear that natural systems all around the world could be at risk.
According to a report from Scientific American, a new study reveals that one of the mot crucial ingredients for life in the ocean is running dangerously low – dissolved oxygen. Researcher Curtis Deutsch, an associate professor at the University of Washington’s School of Oceanography warns that the declining levels of oxygen in the water may cause additional stress to a number of species.
“As the climate goes up, the amount of oxygen will go down, but it’s really hard to look in the ocean to see that change,” said Deutsch.
Working with colleagues from the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Georgia Institute of Technology, Deutsch modeled the fluctuations in oxygen levels in the world’s oceans to the end of the 21st century.
The scientists found that the impact of global warming on oxygen loss was greater than they imagined. The model predicted that declining dissolved oxygen levels would be detectable throughout the world’s oceans by 2030 to 2040.
The study also revealed that oxygen levels were declining in the southern Indian Ocean and parts of the eastern tropical Pacific and Atlantic oceans as well. Other regions with colder water would not likely see detectable changes until 2100.
“In some parts, you can actually detect a change relatively early, like right around now. The signature of the climate being warmer is creating something that is unlike anything that is seen in history. Other places it is much harder to detect, either oxygen is decreasing slowly or there is so much natural variation. So basically the results depend on where you are,” said Deutsch.
It remains unclear to scientists exactly how declining oxygen levels in the world’s oceans will impact marine ecosystems, but the dramatic shift downward will undoubtedly lead to big changes throughout the seas.
A press release from the American Geophysical Union describing the details of the study can be found here.