Climate change is changing populations of small, microscopic algae that float through the water column known as phytoplankton.
The best example is phytoplankton - an aquatic micro-organism.
Climate change is already having profound effects on our planet, and here's one more: It's changing the color of the oceans, with the blues getting bluer and the greens getting greener.
And while the shift in colour will be all but imperceptible to the human eye, it could hint at the profound changes in store for a wide array of marine life.More news: Raiders to play in MLB Giants' ballpark in 2019, report says
"What this study is trying to explain is that in parallel to measuring the amount of phytoplankton in the water, we should also be measuring the light coming from the water", Maycira Costa, professor and coastal oceanography researcher at the University of Victoria, told CTV News.
Climate change will bring a color change to half of the world's oceans by the end of the21st century, the study says.
"The model suggests the changes won't appear huge to the naked eye, and the ocean will still look like it has blue regions in the subtropics and greener regions near the equator and poles", says lead author Stephanie Dutkiewicz, a principal research scientist at MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences and the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.
SEE ALSO: What Do We Do About Plastics? When there are more of these creatures in the water absorbing sunlight, they make the water look greener. Climate change is altering the ocean currents, meaning there will be fewer nutrients for phytoplankton to feed on in some areas, so there will be a decline in their number in those regions.
As the delicate ecosystems of the world's oceans become altered in the face of climate change, so too will their colour. That simple adjustment in their model gave more intense hues of green and blue. "But it'll be enough different that it will affect the rest of the food web that phytoplankton supports".More news: Alphabet fourth-quarter revenue, profit beat estimates
The ocean's waters show the colour they do depending on the light they reflect: Large swaths of water containing just water molecules reflect blue.
Since the late 1990s, satellites have taken continuous measurements of the ocean's color.
But it's been hard to detect and measure these changes, says Dutkiewicz, partly because there's so much variability in the ocean from year to year. "If the productivity of the ocean changes, it will impact that ability".
"What we've shown is that the colour in the blue-green range is going to show that signal of change sooner, in some places in maybe the next decade", said Dr Dutkiewicz.
This was expected to happen at the end of the century, but assuming the three-degree rise path the world is on now, oceanic colour change could be drastic by 2055. "But you can see a significant, climate-related shift in some of these wavebands, in the signal being sent out to the satellites". The sensors, which measure the colour of the water, work to calibrate satellite data in real time, providing information about the health of the Salish Sea. "It could be potentially quite serious". They also simulated how phytoplankton absorbs and reflects light, learning that climate change will effectively alter the ocean's coloring near the surface.More news: Time for Rishabh Pant to make strong case in New Zealand T20s