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Climate Change Affecting Oxygen Levels In Ocean

First Posted: May 05, 2016 05:50 AM EDT

Climate change is doing more than just melting ice caps and giving us increasingly hot temperatures - it is also warming up the oceans, and coincidentally, sucking the oxygen out of it, making it more difficult for marine life to breathe.

Studies showed that increasing global temperatures have been altering the levels of dissolved oxygen in the oceans, and scientists are worried that this rapid decrease will increase stress on many species, as they are also facing the effects of warmer climates and acidification of the ocean.

Curtis Deutsch of the University of Washington's School of Oceanography researched on the matter, and discovered that the amount of oxygen loss is linked to climate change as well. "As the climate goes up, the amount of oxygen will go down," he said. "But it's really hard to look in the ocean to see that change."

Scientific American noted that by using a scientific modeling approach, Deutsch and scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the National Center for Atmospheric Research were able to map out the change in oxygen levels across the world's oceans through the end of the 21st century. They discovered that it was possible to distinguish the impact of global warming from other reasons why oxygen levels could be down.

For instance, the southern Indian Ocean and parts of the Eastern Tropical Pacific and Atlantic oceans had evidence of climate-linked deoxygenation, while other regions aren't as affected and will not see evidence of change until at least 2100.

This is not the first study that suggested levels of oxygen levels are going down. In 2011, a study published in the Geophysical Research Letters found that widespread decline in oxygen concentration in the upper ocean has been ongoing between the 1970s and 1990s, although back then, scientists who conducted the study suggested that the reason for this was the increased stratification between surface waters and deeper ocean, preventing the oxygen from mixing properly.

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