Study Reveals the Ocean Will Shift Color This Century

Study Reveals the Ocean Will Shift Color This Century

The study further suggests that the blue regions would become bluer indicating less phytoplankton and life in those parts of the ocean whereas areas where the colour of the ocean is green, may get even deeper green as rising temperatures would facilitate more growth of different species of phytoplankton. Scientists have used these measurements to derive the amount of chlorophyll, and by extension, phytoplankton, in a given ocean region.

Hickman said this was helpful, as using satellite data to examine specific changes in blue/green light can reveal changes in the phytoplankton population.

They serve as food to many aquatic animals but can also become unsafe.

The team also believe the world will see changes in some of the green shades seen in the oceans as well.

As ocean waters continue to warm - killing off vital coral reefs and disrupting ecosystems in the process - the tiny plants that make up phytoplankton will begin to thrive in new areas and die off in others. The subtropics-which include California, Texas and Florida-will become more blue, while areas near the poles, where warmer temperatures will lead to more diverse phytoplankton, will become greener. As such, the ocean appears blue. But Dutkiewicz says chlorophyll doesn't necessarily have reflect the sensitive signal of climate change. But it's been hard to detect and measure these changes, says Dutkiewicz, partly because there's so much variability in the ocean from year to year. They play a crucial role in sustaining the food chain under water.

Because of the way light reflects off the organisms, blooms of these phytoplankton create colourful patterns at the ocean's surface. This model takes information about phytoplankton, such as what they consume and how they grow, and incorporates this information into a physical model that simulates the ocean's currents and mixing.

The ocean looks blue or green to us because of a combination of how sunlight interacts with water molecules and with whatever else lives in that water.

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Scientists say there will be less of them in the waters in the decades to come. The consequences of doing nothing are many, and a new study by MIT suggests that the ocean will actually change color as a result, and perhaps even within the century.

"Chlorophyll is changing, but you can't really see it because of its incredible natural variability", Dutkiewicz says.

Climate change is already having profound effects on our planet, and here's one more: It's changing the color of the oceans, with the blues getting bluer and the greens getting greener. "But you can see a significant, climate-related shift in some of these wavebands, in the signal being sent out to the satellites".

The team modelled what would happen to the oceans by the end of this century if the world warmed by 3C, which is close to where temperatures are likely to be, if every country sticks to the promises they have made in the Paris climate agreement.

"The change is not a good thing, since it will definitely impact the rest of the food web", said study co-author Stephanie Dutkiewicz, a principal research scientist in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.

"It could be potentially quite serious", Dutkiewicz added. "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".

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