Several studies published in recent times have explored the way in which climate change and global warming has affected the oceans, leading to a selection of harrowing events that can ruin entire ecosystems. Massive coral bleaching events and large-scale algae blooms are only two of the most prominent examples, but more subtle changes have also occurred.
A mixed team of researchers from three famous universities and a well-known institute has analyzed the North Atlantic Ocean water masses, and the results were quite surprising.
It is well-known that oceans play an essential role as they limit climate change by absorbing a significant amount of carbon dioxide and heat through their surface. Both the gas and the heat are stored in the deep ocean for extended times. By observing the changes which take place across the oceans of the world, researchers hope to learn more about the mechanics behind this process and the way in which oceans are affected by climate change.
Climate change and oceans
The team notes that a key layer encountered in the North Atlantic Ocean is very efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide. This layer is known as the North Atlantic Subtropical Mode Water( or the shorter STMW) has stored more than 20% of the carbon dioxide found around the mid-latitude zones of the Atlantic ocean.
With the help of data collected by two of the oldest active open-ocean research programs, the team has concluded that up 93% of the STMW has vanished in less than a decade while the temperatures of the layer have also increased from 0.5 to 0.71 degrees Celsius (or 0.9 to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit). This makes the current STMW layer the weakest and warmest one since measurements began.
According to one of the researchers who contributed to the study, the loss can be tied to several climate change indicators, inferring that a major role may have been played by climate change and global warming.