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Climate change may be choking the ocean’s oxygen supply, study shows

Ocean oxygen levels have been dropping since the 1980s in a pattern consistent with expectations from global warming, according to a new analysis of 50 years of global ocean data. That could spell trouble for marine life, causing respiratory stress.

The new study disputes the idea that natural fluctuations in temperature could be the cause of the declining oxygen levels. Rather it tends to support existing climate change modelling.

A team of four scientists from the U.S. and Japan analyzed data on dissolved oxygen in the top 1,000 meters of the global ocean since 1958. The data came from the World Ocean Database, the most comprehensive collection of ocean observations. The study, titled “Upper ocean O2 trends: 1958–2015,” appeared in the journal Geophysical Research Letters last month.

“The important aspect of our result is that the rate of global oxygen loss appears to be exceeding the level of nature’s random variability,” the team’s lead scientist, oceanographer Takamitsu Ito of the Georgia Institute of Technology, said in his blog.


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