The Oceans Could Soon Not Have Enough Oxygen To Support Marine Life

Due to humans causing increasing amounts of carbon in i the atmosphere, the planet’s climate in continuously changing. As a direct result the oceans are being effected greatly by melting sea ice from the Arctic, the ph of the oceans is become lower (more acidic), and the surface temperatures are increasing. Unfortunately these difficulties aren't the only ones for marine life. As this new study reports the ocean’s oxygen levels are depleting.

The problem is as most marine life rely on oxygen in the oceans. The fact that there are noticeable differences in gas concentrations in global waters is alarming. Reduction in oxygen level will have negative and devastating effect on biodiversity within our oceans. Though as a study published in Global Biogeochemical Cycles suggests, not every region is going to be affected in the same way or at the same time.

Matthew Long the lead author of the National Center for Atmospheric Research recenetly said. “Loss of oxygen in the ocean is one of the serious side effects of a warming atmosphere, and a major threat to marine life” and “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.”

Nearly all of the oxygen found our oceans comes from the surface. This is formed by either dissolving directly into the surface of the water or it also gets produced by phytoplankton, these creatures need the Sun’s rays. Cold water contains a greater amount of dissolved oxygen compared to warm water. If surface water temperatures continue to rise around the world, the oceans ability to absorb oxygen is greatly inhibited.

Unfortunately that’s not the overall impact. As the warmer  water gets, the more it expands. This means it is less dense than cold water meaning it loses the ability to mix with deeper, cold water below. This reduces water circulation  which in turn depletes the oxygen levels of deeper ocean water. This study, publish in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B researched the effect climate change has on the deep sea. They discovered that ecosystems and marine life that lives there are under threat.

The authors from the first report state deoxygenation has already been noticed in some parts of the Pacific Ocean. They believe the problem will become evident by 2030 or 2040. By 2100 the majority of regions will have had noticeable impact. The main worry at the moment is that the effects may last for many decades. This means that even if we manage to reduce our carbon emissions, it may be too late to reverse for some areas. 

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