A new study published in the science journal Nature has found that the ocean’s worldwide oxygen content has declined by more than 2 per cent between 1960 and 2010.
The scientists behind the study say that unless action is taken, these figures will continue to decline, with devastating effects. “It is thought that such a decline in the oceanic oxygen content could affect ocean nutrient cycles and the marine habitat,” they said.
The study came from the GEOMAR Helmhotz Centre for Ocean Rsearch in Kiel Germany. The scientists used data dating back to 1960 to analyse changes in ocean oxygen and temperature levels.
While 2 per cent may seem small, the reality is that the smallest of changes can dramatically affect an ocean’s profile. Co-author of the Nature study, Lothar Stramma explained that oxygen in the world’s oceans is not evenly distributed, which can affect the outcomes of any depletion. “The oxygen losses in the ocean can have far-reaching consequences because of the uneven distribution,” wrote Stramma. “For fisheries and coastal economies this process may have detrimental consequences.
As areas of the ocean become oxygen depleted, fish and other wildlife are no longer able to live there. What’s more, these shallow waters begin to pump out the harmful greenhouse gas called nitrous oxide, thus contributing to the global warming cycle.
The study comes in the wake of a recent report by the World Wildlife Fund which states that we may no longer have coral reefs by 2050 due to the devastating impacts of climate change.