Oceans Are Running Out Of Oxygen, Says Study

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While a small section of society continues to deny the effects of climate change, a new study suggests that the phenomenon is causing oxygen levels to decrease in our oceans.

Evidence continues to mount that climate change caused by global warming is a huge threat to the future of our planet and life as we know it. The effects of climate change run so deep that it is causing oxygen depletion in the ocean.

Worrying trend set to worsen ocean conditions

Climate scientists have warned that unless serious action is taken, the oceans of the world will lose their stocks of dissolved oxygen due to climate change. The study says that the vast majority of oxygen stores will be gone by 2030.

The full results of the study have been published in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles, and show that the influence of global warming on oxygen levels is significant. Evidence shows that the level of oxygen in our oceans is decreasing, but it is not yet clear whether global warming is solely to blame.

If current trends continue, the study says that the oceans will not be able to support marine life within a few decades. It is the first report to focus on oxygen levels in the ocean, large areas of which are now inhospitable for marine life.

Marine life set to be badly affected

A current of water is moving from the depths of the ocean to the surface, and it contains no oxygen. The areas in which this tendency is most pronounced occur in different regions, but they tend to follow a similar pattern to those areas which are suffering global warming.

These low oxygen regions of ocean continue to expand and now cover 1.7 million square miles. Some of the affected areas like in the Pacific and the Atlantic, as well as the Bay of Bengal. The phenomenon could eventually make the seas almost unrecognizable.

The impacts on diet for marine animals could be massive, and there could be mass die-offs. Some fish are already finding it hard to breathe due to low oxygen levels.

Oceans suffering due to global warming

“Oxygen is playing a fundamental role in where species can live or not live,” said study author Curtis Deutsch, associate professor at the University of Washington’s School of Oceanography,

If the temperature of the ocean rises by one degree, the oxygen concentration decreases by 2%. Higher temperatures mean that oceans circulate slower, making oxygen depletion even worse.

Rising temperatures mean that the ocean is more likely to stratify into layers of water depending on oxygen content. This means oxygen-rich surface waters are less able to combine with oxygen-poor water in the deeps.

The researchers looked at how much oxygen depletion is a natural process, and how much it is due to climate change. They say that climate driven changes will become visible around 2030-2040, however some areas are showing early signs now.

“In some parts, you can actually detect a change relatively early, like right around now. The signature of the climate being warmer is creating something that is unlike anything that is seen in history. Other places it is much harder to detect, either oxygen is decreasing slowly or there is so much [natural] variation. So basically the results depend on where you are,” Deutsch said.

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