The World’s Oceans Are Losing Oxygen. Here’s Why That’s a Big Problem

degraded coral reef

coral reef in seychelles that is degraded due to global warming. Rising sea temperatures cause corals to bleach (go white) and die. After they have died they break up and become rubble. On this reef there is some regrowth of young corals so there is hope for recovery

Source: Time

Feb 17, 2017

Oceans across the globe are slowly losing oxygen, which poses a major problem for every living marine animal and underscores the serious consequences of climate change, researchers say.

A new Nature study published this week found that oxygen levels in worldwide oceans have dipped by more than 2% in the last half-century. While the change may seem small, scientists say even subtle shifts in gas levels can alter entire ecosystems.

“It’s significant,” said Rob Dunbar, an Earth science professor at Stanford University. “Anything with a gill is going to care and notice.”

Dunbar, who studies climate change in the tropics and Antarctica seas but who was not part of the Nature study, said the oxygen drop can have rippling effects across the deep blue. Larger marine animals, like sharks, require more oxygen, especially to carry out high-energy activities like feeding. Dropping oxygen levels create “no-go zones” for some sea creatures, leaving them fewer areas to eat and reproduce, Dunbar said.

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