Our oceans are struggling to breathe and running out of oxygen at a fast rate and climate change is speeding up the problem, claims a new study.
According to the latest report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature created by 67 scientists from 17 countries, the oxygen levels of our oceans have reduced by around 2 percent since the 50s.
The report was presented at the latest climate summit in Madrid. To make things worse, the volume of the water that’s entirely absent of oxygen as quadrupled since the 60s.
Why Are Our Oceans Lacking the Needed Oxygen?
60 years ago, only 45 ocean areas had low levels of oxygen. This number increased to 700 in 2011. The new report shows that there’s a 50 percent loss of oxygen in the upper section of the ocean and that this is caused by the increase in planet temperatures.
According to IUCN acting director general’s statement, the scale of damage that climate change is causing on our oceans is now into focus. As the warming ocean reduces in oxygen, the balance of marine life is endangered.
The combination of climate change and the higher nutrient discharge will lead to a 3 to 4 percent reduction in the oxygen levels of the ocean by 2100 if things continue in the same manner.
This is in a way an ultimate wakeup call from the experiment we’re releasing onto the oceans of the world as the carbon emissions continue increasing, claims Dan Laffoley, Senior Advisor Marine Science and Conservation in IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Program and a co-editor of the report.
What Are the Causes of the Deoxygenation?
According to the report, one reason is the ocean’s warming caused by burning fossil fuels- warmer oceans have less oxygen and are more buoyant than cooler water.
Consequently, the oxygen making its way to the deeper waters is impeded and increases the demands for oxygen of the sea creatures.
A second reason is the excessive algae growth. Namely, plant is quickly growing because of the fertilizer run-off into the sewages, waterways, nitrogen disposition from burning fossil fuels, animal waste, and aquaculture.
The insufficient oxygen in oceans has numerous negative effects on marine biodiversity and the daily functioning of the ecosystems of our oceans. It may stress marine organisms and deprive them of the needed oxygen.
Researchers claim that this issue is a threat to bigger species like marlin, tuna, sharks, and swordfish.
Since they’re swimming closer to the surface where there’s more oxygen, they’re more prone to being overfished.
Millions of people who rely on fishing for food and their livelihood are also impacted as they struggle to adapt. The deoxygenated waters will also produce greenhouse gases, including methane and carbon dioxide which will eventually go into the atmosphere.
According to the WMO, the levels of these gases in the atmosphere reached their peak in 2018.