Climate change is affecting everything around us, and it appears that ocean color is included. According to a recent MIT study, the ocean’s color will change in the next decades, and the blue and green regions will intensify.
The reasons why the color will change is because the phytoplankton will go through several changes as well. As temperatures rise, various species of phytoplankton or algae will be affected. Since phytoplankton absorbs and reflects light, the color of the ocean will be affected in time as well.
“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. 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,” explained 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.
The chlorophyll in phytoplankton allows it to absorb more sunlight in the blue parts, compared to the green ones. As a result of that, more green light is reflected to the ocean. It appears that there will be significant chlorophyll levels changes as well, although global warming is not necessarily the cause for that.
“An El Niño or La Niña event will throw up a very large change in chlorophyll because it’s changing the amount of nutrients that are coming into the system,” Dutkiewicz added. “Because of these big, natural changes that happen every few years, it’s hard to see if things are changing due to climate change, if you’re just looking at chlorophyll.”
Nora Reynolds is a major in biology and a minor in Biological Basis of Behavior, writing about science in general. She also likes to try new gadgets and sports about the AI new era.