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How Climate Change Affects Ocean’s Oxygen Level

Apr 28, 2016 12:37 PM EDT

The continues global warming due to climate change has been known to take its toll to Arctic, melting ice caps at an increased rate, but a new study suggests that the warming climate may be sapping considerably amounts of oxygen from the ocean.

According to the study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, scientist have long known that the warming climate can sap oxygen from the ocean, but they have discovered that a considerable amount of oxygen reduction in some oceans are already discernable, and by 2030 and 204 the loss of oxygen level across large oceans around the world will become more apparent.

With the reduction of the ocean's oxygen level, marine species such as fishes, crabs and squids will have more difficulty of breathing, which can result to the sudden death and development of larger dead zones where no marine life can live.

"Loss of oxygen in the ocean is one of the serious side effects of a warming atmosphere, and a major threat to marine life," said NCAR scientist Matthew Long, lead author of the study, said in a statement.

If the atmosphere becomes warmer than usual, oceans ability to draw oxygen from the atmosphere will be inhibited leaving it dependent to its other source of oxygen-the photosynthesizing phytoplankton.

In order to have a better grasp in the natural heating and cooling cycles and complex systems of currents and upwelling of oceans, researchers utilized the National Center for Atmospheric Research's (NCAR) Community Earth System Model. They ran the model multiples times for the years 1920 through 2100. The researchers accounted global warming by making slight manipulations in air temperature.

After running the model, researchers identified that the reduction of oxygen in the ocean that can be attributed to global warming is apparent in 2030.

"Since 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. This new study tells us when we can expect the impact from climate change to overwhelm the natural variability," Long concluded.

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