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Climate change is already impacting our oceans negatively, with increasing occurrences of coral bleaching, toxic algae blooms, and rising sea levels. A new study published in the journal Nature has documented another concerning trend: the ocean’s gradual shift from blue to green.

This study led by the National Oceanography Centre in the UK examined 20 years’ worth of data from the MODIS instrument onboard NASA’s Aqua satellite.

The results were alarming, showing that 56 percent of the world’s sea surface has noticeably changed color, turning greener.

While the change is barely perceptible to the human eye, experts warn it indicates worsening ocean health and composition.

The ocean is turning a touch greener. This shift confirms a trend expected under climate change. (Photo: Nasa)

The greening trend is particularly pronounced in tropical and subtropical regions, indicating potential alterations in phytoplankton communities – microscopic organisms that form the foundation of the marine food web and play a vital role in carbon sequestration.

Over decades of data, the MODIS instrument analyzed the spectrum of light reflecting off the ocean’s surface, revealing changes other measurements might have missed, such as chlorophyll levels.

The study suggested that increased ocean stratification due to climate warming could be a main cause. This occurs as the surface warms and becomes less likely to mix with colder, nutrient-rich layers of water, creating conditions more suitable for certain types of plankton.

After running model simulations for years that predict that these changes in ocean color are going to happen, study co-author and MIT scientist Stephanie Dutkiewicz said in a press release, “To actually see it happening for real is not surprising, but frightening. And these changes are consistent with man-induced changes to our climate.”

Why the CAC has hope for our warming climate

The trend of warmer weather can certainly get you down, but the CAC has tremendous hope for our future. As more people understand what climate warming means, they’re growing concerned and more open to learning what we need to do as individuals and as a society. This is especially true as they see climate warming impact their daily lives — in droughts, intense hurricanes and flood producing extreme rain events, like the one that struck Sarasota on June 11, 2024.

More and more people are supporting the CAC, enabling us to create more awareness while helping our community learn adaptation and action strategies. We are seeing more commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition towards renewable energy sources.

The CAC is committed to the local climate conversation. We do this with events like the Climate Champions Awards Ceremony, Hurricane Season Forecast Day and the upcoming Annual Climate Conference in November, that will focus on human health.

We also give climate presentations to thousands of people each year, answering their questions and helping them understand climate impacts and what they can do to make a real difference in our future.

You can support us in helping our conversation going by making a donation or becoming a member.

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