Climate change is inevitable. In a recent study at MIT, it is understood that climatic change is causing significant impact on the phytoplankton community affecting the ocean’s colour intensifying blue and green regions. Though the changes are not visible to mankind at least until the next few decades, satellites will detect the changes early on sending us the alarming signals for the changes in marine ecosystems.
A research paper recently said, by the end of 21st century, more than 50 percent of the world’s oceans will shift in colour due to climate change.
Also, the study suggests that blue regions, such as the subtropics will become bluer which means less phytoplankton in those waters compared to today. Some regions that are greener today, near the poles may turn even greener due to warm temperatures.
“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,” says lead author Stephanie Dutkiewicz, a principal research scientist at MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences and the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. “That basic pattern will still be there. But it’ll be enough different that it will affect the rest of the food web that phytoplankton supports.”
“Since the late 1990s, satellites have taken continuous measurements of the ocean’s colour. Scientists have used these measurements to derive the amount of chlorophyll, and by extension, phytoplankton, in a given ocean region. But Dutkiewicz says chlorophyll doesn’t necessarily reflect the sensitive signal of climate change. Any significant swings in chlorophyll could very well be due to global warming, but they could also be due to “natural variability” normal, periodic upticks in chlorophyll due to natural, weather-related phenomena.”
It is a clear sign of indication that climate change / global warming has a significant impact on the marine ecosystems. But, what’s more important for us to look at? What balances the whole equation? Chlorophyll?
“Chlorophyll is changing, but you can’t really see it because of its incredible natural variability,” Dutkiewicz says. “But you can see a significant, climate-related shift in some of these wavebands, in the signal being sent out to the satellites. So that’s where we should be looking in satellite measurements, for a real signal of change.”
“There will be a noticeable difference in the colour of 50 percent of the ocean by the end of the 21st century,” Dutkiewicz says. “It could be potentially quite serious. 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. “
Source: MIT news
All-in-all, the shift may not be concerning at the moment. But the consequences might cause a serious trouble for the generations to come. So, it is always important for us to be responsible towards climate change and do our bit of work to protect our oceans.