Coastal phytoplankton blooms expand and intensify in the 21st century
© Stocktrek Images/Getty Images
Potentially harmful coastal algal blooms are increasing in many parts of the world as sea surface temperatures rise
Blooms of microscopic algae called phytoplankton have become a major environmental issue in recent years, as the algae can reduce oxygen levels in coastal waters and even produce toxins that cause illness in marine creatures and humans.
Now, a team led by researchers from SUSTech in Shenzhen, China, has used global satellite data to map the change in the frequency and distribution of algal blooms around the global between 2003 and 2020.
Their analysis revealed the total area affected by algal blooms has increased by 13% and the frequency of blooms has increased by almost 60% over that time.
The frequency of blooms was also significantly linked to higher sea surface temperatures and global climate events such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation.
- Nature 615, 280–284 (2023). doi: 10.1038/s41586-023-05760-y