A Sea of Many Colors

Recent discussions of possible ocean color shifts due to climate change inspired this scientist to embrace her creative side

The effects of climate change can range from prosaic to pernicious, from scary to surprising. A recent paper in Nature Communications spurred the imagination of readers and reporters by discussing how ocean color may change due to a changing climate, and what this can tell us about how and where ecosystems are responding. This inspired me to reflect on the different ways our actions affect our environment. My thoughts expanded beyond photosynthesis and phytoplankton to shifting perceptions as well as ecosystem changes. These are likely adverse—for me, they came out in verse:

Our view of the world is colored

by reflection and radiance

and responds as we change

yellow, orange, red, indigo, violet.

Blue. Green.

Blue-green ocean and our

ocean view; we thought it was

vast, wide, unencumbered,

colored by our memories alone.

We change and we change

its colors.

Still imperceptible, slight shifts

light shifts

swinging greener,

green tides of new communities.

Uncontrolled growth leading to

uncontrolled growth but also,

diving deeper, blue and

less productive.

Changing colors as we change

Our climate; and we ask,

“How does the color of the ocean change?”


“When will these changes be unambiguous relative to natural interannual variability?”


Uncomprehending, we don’t see changes,

but we answer as we model

shifting patterns of sea changes,

our world responding to our weight.

We show true colors, blue colors,

green colors, reflections of

our effects, affected by our actions

our sea.

A shimmering chimera

That reflects us.

Review our acts and

re-view our future

colored by reflection undimmed,

uncertain, by chance…

Seize time, change change,

and paint a vision where

we shine.

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