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Global warming leaves oceans to suffocate

January 16, 2017
“Low oxygen areas in the ocean are expanding at an alarming rate and will affect fisheries and ecosystem diversity,” said Roman.

Do you know why bubbles form in a pot of boiling water? It’s the oxygen leaving the liquid. The same thing is happening as a changing climate warms up our oceans. It’s called deoxygenation, or ocean suffocation. When the water warms up, it holds less oxygen for living creatures to use. At the same time, animals’ need for oxygen increases as the temperature rises. A double whammy.

Oceanographer Mike Roman, Director of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory, spent time in Paris last month working with colleagues at UNESCO’s International Oceanographic Commission on ways to tackle the problem of an oxygen-deprived ocean.  

“Low oxygen areas in the ocean are expanding at an alarming rate and will affect fisheries and ecosystem diversity,” said Roman. “It’s essential to look at problems that will occur the next decades and to advise governments on ways to coordinate research to solve them.”

The Commission is working on a plan to call nations to arms to coordinate research on deoxygenation around the globe and to educate politicians, managers, and the public about the problem. They expect to release their recommendations in 2017.