Climate Change Will Noticeably Reduce Ocean Oxygen By 2030

Posted: Apr 28 2016, 10:05am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 29 2016, 12:13am CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Climate Change will Noticeably Reduce Ocean Oxygen by 2030
Credit: NCAR

New study suggests that widespread losses of ocean oxygen will become evident between 2030 and 2040. As a result, marine animals will struggle to breathe and survive.

World oceans could face a major problem in near future and it will be difficult to reverse.

New research suggests that climate change is gradually sapping oxygen from the oceans and this oxygen depletion will become noticeably evident by the 2030s. Though, it is already happening in many oceans across the world.  

The reduction of ocean oxygen can disrupt marine ecosystems and can put marine biodiversity at considerable risk since fish, squids, sea stars, crabs and other animals depend on oxygen as much as humans. Decreased oxygen means marine animals will find it difficult to breathe and will get exhausted in such hot environments. 

“Loss of oxygen in the ocean is one of the serious side effects of a warming atmosphere and a major threat to marine life,” said lead researcher Mathew Long from National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

“Since oxygen concentrations in the ocean naturally vary depending on variations in winds and temperature at the surface, it’s been challenging to attribute any deoxygenation to climate change. This new study tells us when we can expect the impact from climate change to overwhelm the natural variability.” 

Oceans produce oxygen through marine plants such as phytoplankton, kelp, and algal plankton. As the oceans get warmer, they absorb less oxygen. As a result, the entire ocean from depths to the shallows receives insufficient amount of oxygen which can ultimately harm animals living in them. 

Researchers used climate models to estimate when reduction of ocean oxygen will become more discernible. Computer simulations revealed the variations and changes took place in air temperature over the years. With this information, researchers were able to estimate when climate change will considerably affect global warming in the future.

Researchers found that oxygen losses caused by climate change will be widespread and visible between 2030 and 2040. The changes have already been detected in the southern Indian Ocean and parts of the eastern tropical Pacific and Atlantic basins while areas off the east coasts of Africa, Australia, and Southeast Asia will not show any signs of decreased oxygen even by 2100.

The findings will help pinpoint the variables and to understand the changes taking place in oceans and may help researchers to find a way to counteract them.

Mathew Long says. “We need comprehensive and sustained observations of what’s going on in the ocean to compare with what we're learning from our models and to understand the full impact of a changing climate.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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