Tech and Science

Climate change prompts change of colour in Earth’s oceans


This image from the Nasa Aqua Satellite shows the turbid water that surrounds southern Florida and the Florida Keys. — AFP/File
This image from the Nasa Aqua Satellite shows the turbid water that surrounds southern Florida and the Florida Keys. — AFP/File

Recently released images from Nasa satellites show that more than half of the oceans on Earth have turned green as a result of climate change that is disrupting marine ecosystems.

The images have prompted scientists to look into the odd changes in the ocean’s colour and investigate how climate change is linked to these changes.

According to satellite data, 56% of the world’s oceans have experienced a colour change from blue to green over the past 20 years, which has been especially noticeable in tropical areas close to the equator, Euro News reported.

The inconspicuous greening of our oceans, according to researchers, is a sign of how climate change is affecting aquatic life.

Why is the green taking over the blue in the oceans?

Over half of the world’s oceans gradually changed from blue to primarily green hues, as observed by Nasa’s Modis-Aqua satellite, which means more surface area than the entire surface of the Earth has undergone colour change.

After analysing the Nasa data, BB Cael and his colleagues at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, UK, concluded that the green colouring is a sign of “ecosystem change” brought on by climate change.

Although the nature of these changes and their precise origin are unknown, according to BB Cael, they are most likely connected to the phytoplankton that make up the majority of food chains. In addition to producing much of the oxygen we breathe and preserving our atmosphere, these organisms are essential to both processes.

“The effects of climate change are already being felt in the surface marine microbial ecosystem,” the study notes.

Are colour-changing oceans hiding something bigger?

The authors of the study hypothesise that a change in the ocean’s colour could signal a change in the health of its ecosystems. Greener tones show more phytoplankton activity, while deep blue indicates less life.

It draws a picture of the activity taking place in the water’s topmost layers.

Nevertheless, because of the wildly fluctuating chlorophyll levels at the surface, the colour of the ocean can change from year to year. It is challenging to determine whether the change from blue to green is a result of climate change.

Before identifying any trends, scientists anticipated that it could take up to 40 years to monitor the colour of the ocean. Additionally, different satellites measure colour changes in various ways. In other words, it is often not possible to combine the data from each one.

Furthermore, Nasa’s Pace mission, which will launch in January 2024, will investigate the ocean’s shifting colours in greater detail. It will keep an eye on clouds, plankton, aerosols, and the ecosystem of the ocean.


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