Bluer Blues: Climate Change Will Change the Color of the Oceans, MIT Study Says


Global warming may change the color of the oceans

Climate change will make the blue of the oceans bluer and its greens greener, says a new study.

The color of the ocean depends on how sunlight is reflected by anything in the water.

Microorganisms called phytoplankton contain chlorophyll, a pigment that absorbs more of the blue part of the light spectrum and less of the green. The green light is reflected. Therefore, the water with more phytoplankton has a greenish tone. Areas without organisms, like the middle of the ocean, look blue.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a model to simulate how different species of phytoplankton will grow and interact with the oceans and how this will change as global temperatures rise, according to a statement on the study.

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Running the model by the end of the 21st century, scientists have found that more than half of the world's oceans will change color by 2100 because of climate change.

The study, published Monday in the journal Nature Communications, suggests that areas such as subtropics will have even less phytoplankton because warmer water will have less nutrients to feed the microorganisms. These areas will be even bluer than they are today.

Cooler regions today, such as those near the Earth's poles, will become warmer, bringing in more nutrients that will feed the larger phytoplankton flowers. These areas will become deeper green.

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"The model suggests that the changes will not look huge with the naked eye, and the ocean will still appear to have blue regions in subtropical and greener regions near the equator and poles," said Stephanie Dutkiewicz, lead author of the research. in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences of MIT and in the Joint Program on Science and Policy of Global Change. "This basic pattern will still be there, but it will be different enough to affect the rest of the food web that phytoplankton supports."

"It can be potentially very serious," added Dutkiewicz. "Different types of phytoplankton absorb light differently, and if climate change changes one community from phytoplankton to another, it will also change the kinds of food webs they can handle."

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