Boston: More than 50 per cent of the world’s oceans will shift in colour due to climate change by the year 2100, an MIT study has found. Climate change is causing significant changes to phytoplankton in the world’s oceans, and over the coming decades these changes will affect the ocean’s colour, intensifying its blue regions and its green ones, according to the study published in the journal Nature Communications.
Satellites should detect these changes in hue, providing early warning of wide-scale changes to marine ecosystems, said researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US. They developed a global model that simulates the growth and interaction of different species of phytoplankton, or algae, and how the mix of species in various locations will change as temperatures rise around the world.
The researchers also simulated the way phytoplankton absorb and reflect light, and how the ocean’s colour changes as global warming affects the makeup of phytoplankton communities. They ran the model through the end of the 21st century and found that, by the year 2100, more than 50 per cent of the world’s oceans will shift in colour, due to climate change.
The study suggests that blue regions, such as the subtropics, will become even more blue, reflecting even less phytoplankton — and life in general — in those waters, compared with today. Some regions that are greener today, such as near the poles, may turn even deeper green, as warmer temperatures brew up larger blooms of more diverse phytoplankton.