Nov. 15 (UPI) — Phytoplankton are proliferating along the coast of New Zealand’s South Island. The bloom was photographed this week by the camera on NASA’s Aqua satellite. The space agency shared the image on Wednesday.

While temperatures drop and days lengthen on the north half of Earth to the equator, the Southern Hemisphere is awakening to spring. The warming temperatures and increased sunlight can fuel phytoplankton blooms.

Phytoplankton serve as the vital base for all marine food chains. But phytoplankton communities are being affected by climate change, and many scientists are concerned the shifts could disrupt ocean ecosystems.

Recent tests proved single-celled algae are significantly affected by changes to temperature and CO2 levels.

Another study showed different types of algae could become more dominant as ocean temperatures rise.

While scientists remain uncertain on exactly how shifts in phytoplankton populations would affect the makeup of marine food chains, it’s possible significant changes would benefit some species while harming others. Some warn whole ecosystems could collapse, while others suggest growing uniformity could diminish biodiversity.

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