Climate change likely causing changes in the color of oceans
New research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the UK's National Oceanography Center has determined that human-induced climate change has likely caused large portions (56%) of the world's oceans to change color over the past 20 years.
These changes in the ocean's color cannot be explained by natural, year-to-year variability alone, according to the study's authors.
What the research team found.......
Tropical oceans in particular are becoming steadily greener, which is likely due to changes in organisms and material in the water.
The greener colored waters from a recent MODIS image below indicates the presence of phytoplankton off the coast of Russia.
Deep blue colored waters typically indicate little in the way of ocean life, while greener waters are a sign of blossoming phytoplankton.
The researchers analyzed ocean color changes over the past two decades using the moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) that is on board the Aqua satellite.
Key excerpts below are from the MIT News report......
The differences in color that the satellite picks up are too subtle for human eyes to differentiate. Much of the ocean appears blue to our eye, whereas the true color may contain a mix of subtler wavelengths, from blue to green and even red.
“I’ve been running simulations that have been telling me for years that these changes in ocean color are going to happen,” says study co-author Stephanie Dutkiewicz, senior research scientist in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences and the Center for Global Change Science. “To actually see it happening for real is not surprising, but frightening. And these changes are consistent with man-induced changes to our climate.”
“The color of the oceans has changed,” Dutkiewicz says. “And we can’t say how. But we can say that changes in color reflect changes in plankton communities, that will impact everything that feeds on plankton. It will also change how much the ocean will take up carbon, because different types of plankton have different abilities to do that. So, we hope people take this seriously. It’s not only models that are predicting these changes will happen. We can now see it happening, and the ocean is changing.”Report a Typo