Earth’s oceans are changing colour and climate breakdown is probably to blame, according to research.
The deep blue sea is actually becoming steadily greener over time, according to the study, with areas in the low latitudes near the equator especially affected.
“The reason we care about this is not because we care about the colour, but because the colour is a reflection of the changes in the state of the ecosystem,” said BB Cael, a scientist at the National Oceanography Centre at the University of Southampton and author of the study published in Nature.
Prior research focused on changes in the greenness of the ocean – from the verdant chlorophyll in its plankton – to learn about trends in the changing climate. But Cael’s team pored over 20 years of observations by Nasa’s Modis-Aqua satellite, an exhaustive data repository, and looked for patterns of change in the ocean’s hue through a fuller colour spectrum including red and blue.
Plankton of different sizes scatter light differently, and plankton with different pigments absorb light differently. Examining changes in colour can give scientists a clearer picture of changes in plankton populations around the globe. Phytoplankton is crucial to ocean ecosystems because it is at the base of most of its food chains.
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