as the ocean surface warms, it absorbs less oxygen. And to make
matters worse, oxygen in warmer water, which is less dense, has
a tough time circulating to deeper waters.
their study, published in the journal Global
Long and his team used simulations to predict ocean deoxygenation
oxygen concentrations in the ocean naturally vary depending on
variations in winds and temperature at the surface, it’s been
challenging to attribute
any deoxygenation to climate change,”
Long said in a statement. “This new study tells us when we can
expect the impact from climate change to overwhelm the natural
we don’t have long.
2030 or 2040, according to the study, deoxygenation due to climate
change will be detectable in large swaths of the Pacific Ocean,
including the areas surrounding Hawaii and off the West Coast of the
U.S. mainland. Other areas have more time. In the seas near the east
coasts of Africa, Australia, and Southeast Asia, for example,
deoxygenation caused by climate change still won’t be evident by
said the eventual suffocation may affect the ability of ocean
ecosystems to sustain healthy fisheries. The concern among the
scientific community, he said, is that “we’re conceivably
pushing past tipping points” in being able to prevent the damage.
Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University, shared these
concerns, telling The Washington Post that the new study adds to the
“list of insults we are inflicting on the ocean through
burning of fossil fuels.”
a week after learning that
93 [percent] of the Great Barrier Reef has
experienced bleaching in response to the unprecedented current warmth
of the oceans, we have yet another reason to be gravely concerned
about the health of our oceans, and yet another reason to prioritize
the rapid decarbonization of our economy,” Mann said.
this reason is unlikely to be the last.