We’ve all read news articles describing the dire effects that human activity is having upon the oceans, from acidification of the water from climate change to how overfishing and pollution are destroying aquatic species. But it’s all driven home more powerfully by this ingenious rotating globe visualization created by NOAA scientists.
A screenshot from the graphic shows the human impact in color code. In the Western Hemisphere, only a small portion of the southeastern Atlantic Ocean still is the blue that denotes relatively low damage, while most of the rest of the waters are orange (medium damage) and portions of waters off the northeastern U.S. and northern Europe show high damage.
About 80 percent of the pollution in the oceans actually starts on land. One major source is massive amounts of what scientists call nonpoint source pollution, basically runoff from various sources ranging from farms and construction sites to oil that leaks from cars and trucks and eventually makes its way to the ocean.
Additionally, the massive amounts of carbon dioxide released by human activities such as the burning of coal and gasoline is harming the oceans. About a quarter of the C02 is absorbed by seawater. As a result, the chemical composition is changing and becoming more acidic, which makes it more difficult for fish, shellfish and other aquatic life to survive.
Large amounts of plastic trash and other refuse also find their way into the oceans, and now seem to be decomposing into tiny pieces that could pose an even greater threat to the oceans’ health.
NOAA’s website also offers other intriguing visualizations, including one that shows what the planet would look like without any water.