The Indian Ocean has lost up to a fifth of its microscopic plants in the last six decades due to global warming. This could turn one of the most biologically productive regions of the world into “an ecological desert” and impact future food security, new research shows.
The decline in marine microscopic plants or ‘phytoplankton’ — including single-celled algae and marine bacteria — due to rapid warming in the Indian Ocean has been reported by a team comprising scientists from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad as well as those from the University of Maryland, University of Sorbonne and University of Cape Town.
The findings, published in the Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) in January 2016, contradict previous studies which indicate that global warming could be beneficial to phytoplankton in the Indian Ocean, and that they may increase.
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