Home Sciences Climate change endangers the world reserves of Omega-3

Climate change endangers the world reserves of Omega-3


The increase in temperatures due to climate change will endanger the world’s omega-3 reserves. The heat will cause the food chain to be altered, causing the phytoplankton to drastically reduce their production of essential fatty acids, including omega-3. The researchers warn that this sudden change in the food cycle may even have an impact on our health, although at the moment it is unknown.

This has been demonstrated by a group of researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), who have shown in an article published in ‘Science’ how little we know about the thousands of small organisms that make up the marine ecosystem. The results of this research are “another example of how human activities are disturbing the oceans in ways we never expected, and of the uncertainty that still exists regarding how the ocean will respond to warming”, as explained by chemist Benjamin Van Mooy, of the WHOI Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry and co-author of this article.

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In their study, the researchers came to identify 1,151 different lipids whose production of fatty acids was directly related to the temperature of the sea. Hence, these researchers believe that the intense heat that the ocean is facing will have direct repercussions on the production of fatty acids.

Scientists expect “significant decreases” in one essential fatty acid in particular, eicosapentaenoic acid (also known as EPA). EPA is one of the most nutritious omega-3 fatty acids and has been linked to numerous benefits to human health. In fact, it can be found for sale as a dietary supplement.

“The composition of the lipids that are produced in the ocean will change as it warms up,” says Van Mooy. This is what most worries the scientist, given that “these lipids influence the quality of the food that the ocean produces.”

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“Serious impacts on fisheries”

Researchers venture to predict what may happen in the coming years if climate change is not curbed. “Over the next century, this lack of production will have serious economic impacts on fisheries”, they report. Also in the health of the population, since the omega-3 fatty acid is an essential fat with enormous benefits, especially for the proper functioning of the heart. However, our body is unable to produce it on its own. This drastic decrease it will not affect the whole ocean equally. The highest latitudes (the poles) will be the most affected. In the worst scenario of greenhouse gas emissions (8.5) and therefore the worst of climate change, these oceanic regions will experience a drastic decrease of up to 25% in their fatty acids, compared to the current situation.

Reference study: https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/956935

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