Oceans are changing color because of climate change

A new study from researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has found that more than half of the world’s oceans will change color by the year 2100, due to changes in the types and location of phytoplankton.

Phytoplankton are microscopic algae at the bottom of the ocean food web and are a key part of most ocean ecosystems. They also store excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and produce about half of the oxygen we breathe.

Phytoplankton absorb and reflect various wavelengths of sunlight, which appear as different colors. Oceans with a lot of algae appear greenish, while areas with fewer phytoplankton appear a deeper blue.

Researchers fed satellite measurements of reflected light into a computer model and then correlated it to the number and type of ocean organisms. When they used the model to raise the global temperature by 3 degrees, they saw a very clear shift in ocean color with the blues getting bluer and the greens getting greener.

While those changes may seem inconsequential, researchers point out that it’s one more sign of how people are altering the earth in a major way.

World insect populations plummeting at an alarming rate

Insects are essential for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, but the first global review of insect populations published in the journal of Biological Conservation has found that more than 40 percent of insect species are declining and a third are endangered.

The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, reptiles or birds. According to the best data available, the total mass of insects is falling by 2.5 percent each year, suggesting they could vanish within a century. The analysis says that intensive agriculture is the main driver of the declines, specifically the heavy use of pesticides.

“If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have a catastrophic consequence for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind,” Francisco Sanchez-Bayo, co-author of the review, told The Guardian.