According to a new study, our planet’s plankton is disappearing at an alarming rate due to the increasing levels of ocean acidification. The study’s results were published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
The researchers who conducted the study found that oceans absorb more than 30% of the CO2 emissions produced by humans, and this carbon dioxide gets absorbed in the oceans and stays locked inside for centuries. The study suggests that the acidity levels of the oceans have gone up in the last century due to the high levels of carbon dioxide. Scientists say that the oceans’ pH has gone down from 8.2 to 8.1 and could drop even lower than this by 2100, reaching a pH of 7.8. The study suggests that if this happens the marine creatures will suffer immensely.
The study was conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Alabama in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After analyzing the data, they found that ocean acidification is killing the plankton. Stephanie Dutkiewicz, researcher at MIT, explained that ocean acidification and the change of ocean temperatures could seriously affect the phytoplankton of our planet, which constitutes the base of the whole marine food web. Dutkiewicz added that if the phytoplankton is affected, then all the marine creatures will suffer irreversible consequences.
Recent studies have also revealed that the oceans’ microorganisms release aerosols that influence the cloud cover positively, helping the clouds to deflect the sunlight, which keeps the Earth cooler. This alone makes the plankton extremely important for the well-being of our planet, as per the experts.
The researchers have been analyzing a number of factors that are responsible for climate change, including the increasingly warmer temperatures and the decrease in nutrients, and found that ocean acidification is the factor that influences the most and has the most negative effects.
Dutkiewicz talked about the findings of the study saying that ocean acidification will most likely destroy some species of plankton, while others will thrive. Also, the researchers report that warming waters will probably drive the phytoplankton to migrate toward the poles. The conclusion is that if things continue to worsen at this rate, the base of our planet’s marine food will suffer immensely.
The scientists studied more than 150 published reports on how plankton reacts to different levels of acidity. According to the data, some species were “winners” while other were“losers”.
Image Source: planktonproductions