Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Oceans Likely to Heat up at Seven Times Their Current Rate, New Study Finds

Oceans
A baby humpback whale tail slaps in the Pacific Ocean in front of the West Maui Mountains. share your experiences / Moment / Getty Images

The depths of the oceans are heating up more slowly than the surface and the air, but that will undergo a dramatic shift in the second half of the century, according to a new study. Researchers expect the rate of climate change in the deep parts of the oceans could accelerate to seven times their current rate after 2050, as The Guardian reported.


The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that different parts of the ocean undergo change at different rates as the extra heat from increasing levels of greenhouse gases moved through the vast ocean depths, making it increasingly tricky for marine life to adapt, according to The Guardian.

The researchers saw grim prospects for marine life after looking at a metric called climate velocity, which measures the speed and direction a species shifts as their habitat warms, according to Sky News.

The scientists, led by Isaac Brito-Morales, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Queensland in Australia, used data from 11 different climate models to predict what the rest of the 21st century will look like, as Sky News reported. Brito-Morales and his team looked at the past 50 years of data and projections for future greenhouse gas emissions.

"This allowed us to compare climate velocity in four ocean depth zones — assessing in which zones biodiversity could shift their distribution the most in response to climate change," said Brito-Morales, in a University of Queensland statement.

The researchers looked at future rates of change in three different scenarios, one where emissions start to fall, another where they start to fall by the middle of this century, and a third where emissions continued to rise up to 2100.

The study found "a rapid acceleration of climate change exposure throughout the water column" in the second half of the century, as The Guardian reported.

Professor Jorge García Molinos, a climate ecologist at Hokkaido University's Arctic Research Center in Japan, and a co-author of the study, said to The Guardian, "Our results suggest that deep sea biodiversity is likely to be at greater risk because they are adapted to much more stable thermal environments."

"The acceleration of climate velocity is consistent through all tested greenhouse gas concentration scenarios," Moinos added, as ANI News in India reported.

So far, ocean water surfaces are experiencing climate velocity about twice the rate of the lower regions. Consequently, life in the depths of the ocean has been less affected than, say, coral, which are much closer to the surface of the water.

"However by the end of the century, assuming we have a high-emissions future, there is not only much greater surface warming, but also this warmth will penetrate deeper," said Brito-Morales in a statement. "In waters between a depth of 200 and 1000 meters, our research showed climate velocities accelerated to 11 times the present rate.

"And in an interesting twist, not only is climate velocity moving at different speeds at different depths in the ocean, but also in different directions which poses huge challenges to the ways we design protected areas," he added.

Several problems exist for marine life such as tuna. First, although they live in the depths, the plankton they eat are near the surface, meaning tuna will have to go through changing water to find food. Secondly, fish in the depths of the ocean are accustomed to a highly stable environment. They are extremely vulnerable to any slight changes in ocean temperatures, as The Guardian reported.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The 2006 oil spill was the largest incident in Philippine history and damaged 1,600 acres of mangrove forests. Shubert Ciencia / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Jun N. Aguirre

An oil spill on July 3 threatens a mangrove forest on the Philippine island of Guimaras, an area only just recovering from the country's largest spill in 2006.

Read More Show Less
People visit Jacksonville Beach on July 4, 2020 in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Public health experts have attributed Florida's growing coronavirus caseload to people gathering in crowds. Sam Greenwood / Getty Images

Florida broke the national record for the most new coronavirus cases reported in a single day on Sunday, with a total of 15,299.

Read More Show Less
Marco Bottigelli / Moment / Getty Images

By James Shulmeister

Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change.

If you have a question you'd like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz

Read More Show Less
Luxy Images / Getty Images

By Jo Harper

Investment in U.S. offshore wind projects are set to hit $78 billion (€69 billion) this decade, in contrast with an estimated $82 billion for U.S. offshore oil and gasoline projects, Wood Mackenzie data shows. This would be a remarkable feat only four years after the first offshore wind plant — the 30 megawatt (MW) Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island — started operating in U.S. waters.

Read More Show Less
Giacomo Berardi / Unsplash

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed both the strengths and limitations of globalization. The crisis has made people aware of how industrialized food production can be, and just how far food can travel to get to the local supermarket. There are many benefits to this system, including low prices for consumers and larger, even global, markets for producers. But there are also costs — to the environment, workers, small farmers and to a region or individual nation's food security.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Joe Leech

The human body comprises around 60% water.

It's commonly recommended that you drink eight 8-ounce (237-mL) glasses of water per day (the 8×8 rule).

Read More Show Less

Trending

By Michael Svoboda

The enduring pandemic will make conventional forms of travel difficult if not impossible this summer. As a result, many will consider virtual alternatives for their vacations, including one of the oldest forms of virtual reality – books.

Read More Show Less