Climate change has proved to be a significant threat to life on Earth as we know it. Scientists now claim that there are enough reasons to believe that some of the smallest organisms in the sea, planktons are migrating to the north. This might have a truly damaging effect on marine life since the planktons play a crucial role in the ocean ecosystems, being considered “the building blocks of the ocean.”
Planktonic foraminifera is a unique kind of planktons that have a special shell that is very hard. When they die, their shells will fall to the bottom of the ocean where they are preserved for tremendous amounts of time, creating a historical record of different communities of planktons from different parts of the world.
Ocean ecosystems already suffered transformations
Lukas Jonkers, the study’s leader, conducted several studies on this particular records, collecting sample dating from 1978 to 2013, and the results point up to the fact that the warming of the oceans forced them to migrate to the north, where the temperatures match the water temperature of their original habitats.
Scientists say that, at this point, even if we manage to keep the rise of global temperatures below 1.5 degrees, which is quite hard to put in practice, the ecosystems of our world would be still significantly altered.
As Jonker stated, marine life already suffered significant transformations. He backs his statement up by giving the example of the modern species identified near Greenland, which seem to be the same species as “those in the pre-industrial sediment found further south.”
Plankton migrating north might lead to the extinction of some species
Since the study was only based on 4,000 samples collected from areas across the northern hemisphere, how southern based communities of planktons react to these changes is yet to be examined. However, Jonkers state that the pattern is already quite clear, and that in the areas where the temperature suffered significant shifts, the ecosystems also transformed.
Although no evidence can point out to extinction of species yet, this possibility is not to be ruled out, as should the temperature continue to drop, some species won’t be able to keep up and adapt as quick as needed and will likely go extinct.