Global ocean waters could speed warming, become less suitable for life

The reduced up and down mixing is expected to have sweeping implications beyond just accelerating global warming. It is projected to increase energy available to hurricanes and other storms, reduce essential nutrients for fish in upper ocean layers and diminish the oceans’ ability to store carbon, among other impacts.

The study assesses how the separation of seawater layers, known as stratification, has changed based on new temperature, salinity and density data. It finds substantial shifts have occurred as the ocean has absorbed more heat in the upper 6,500 feet of water.

The study, from researchers in China as well as the United States, found stratification has increased by about 5.3 percent during the 1960 to 2018 period, for a rate of 0.9 percent per decade.

The way the ocean layers are separated is similar to a basic vinaigrette salad dressing, where lighter oil sits at the top, and more dense

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