Scientists have discovered a decline in the amount of oxygen in the world’s oceans, a result of climate change that could have “detrimental consequences” on marine life, fisheries, and coastal economies, according to a study in the journal Nature.
Climate models have long predicted such a decline. Warmer water holds less dissolved gas, and according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, sea surface temperature rose at an average rate of 0.13°F per decade from 1901 through 2015. In addition, as surface water heats up, the ocean mixes less, which prevents oxygen pulled from the atmosphere and created by surface-dwelling marine life from reaching deeper, denser waters.
The new paper, published by climate and marine scientists at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research in Germany, concluded that the ocean’s dissolved oxygen content has declined 2 percent globally, with the Pacific and Arctic Oceans experiencing the sharpest drops. Climate models project that the oceans could lose up to 7 percent of their oxygen by 2100.