Ocean “deserts” expanding, say scientists

Vast, nutrient-starved areas of the oceans known as subtropical gyres, which already cover 40% of Earth's surface, are growing faster than global warming models predict, the journal Science reported on Friday.

The orbiting SeaStar spacecraft is credited with helping the discovery by oceanographer Jeffrey Polovina of the US National Marine Fisheries Service in Honolulu, Hawaii.

All of the oceans’ biological deserts have grown, the report said, except in the South Indian Ocean. "We’re seeing this pattern in each of the four ocean basins," Polovina was quoted as saying. This suggests to him, the report says, that global warming could be the ultimate cause.

Climate-ecosystem models predict that global warming will exacerbate ocean desert expansion, but not this quickly, Polovina was quoted as saying.

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