Claim: Climate Change Could Lead to A Dramatic Temperature-Linked Decrease in Essential Omega-3 Fatty Acids, According to New Study

[ok, ok, I think this one might win an award for speculative fiction-cr]

Henry Holm extracting lipids



Peer-Reviewed Publication


The effects of global climate change already are resulting in the loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise, and longer and more intense heat waves, among other threats.

Now, the first-ever survey of planktonic lipids in the global ocean predicts a temperature-linked decrease in the production of essential omega-3 fatty acids, an important subset of lipid molecules.

A significant implication of the survey is that as global warming proceeds, there will be fewer and fewer omega-3 fatty acids produced by plankton at the base of the food web, which will mean less omega-3 fatty acids available for fish and for people. Omega-3 fatty acid is an essential fat that the human body cannot produce on its own, and is widely regarded as a “good” fat that link seafood consumption to heart health. 

The survey analyzed 930 lipid samples across the global ocean using a uniform high-resolution accurate mass spectrometry analytical workflow, “revealing heretofore unknown characteristics of ocean planktonic lipidomes,” which is the entirety of hundreds to thousands of lipid species in a sample, according to a new paper led by authors from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).  

“Focusing on ten molecularly diverse glycerolipid classes we identified 1,151 distinct lipid species, finding that fatty acid unsaturation (i.e., number of carbon to carbon double bonds) is fundamentally constrained by temperature. We predict significant declines in the essential fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] over the next century, which are likely to have serious deleterious effects on economically critical fisheries,” states the paper, “Global ocean lipidomes show a universal relationship between temperature and lipid unsaturation,” published in Science.

EPA is one of the most nutritious omega-3 fatty acids, has been linked to numerous health benefits, and is widely available as a dietary supplement.
“The lipids in the ocean affect your life,” says journal article co-author Benjamin Van Mooy, senior scientist in WHOI’s Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Department. “We found that the composition of lipids in the ocean is going to change as the ocean warms. That is a cause for concern. We need those lipids that are in the ocean because they influence the quality of the food that the ocean produces for humanity.”

“All organisms in the ocean have to contend with water temperatures. With this study, we have revealed one of the important biochemical ways cells are doing that,” says journal article lead author Henry C. Holm, a doctoral student in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science and Engineering. “These findings about EPA were made possible by using a method that gives us a very complete picture of the gylcerolipids in each sample. We saw that temperature was linked with the saturation of cell membranes everywhere we looked in the ocean.” 

Lipids are a class of biomolecules produced and used by organisms from all domains of life for energy storage, membrane structure, and signaling. They make up about 10-20 percent of the plankton in the surface ocean where lipid production and inventories are greatest. Oceanographers have used lipids as biomarkers of chemical and biological processes for decades, and there has been robust research into their biogeochemistry. Only recently, however, has the combination of high-resolution mass spectrometry and downstream analytical tools allowed for the comprehensive untargeted assessments of ocean lipids on scales similar to surveys of other molecules such as nucleic acids and proteins.

In this new survey, researchers examined a global-scale mass spectral dataset of planktonic lipidomes from 146 locations collected during seven oceanographic research cruises from 2013-2018. The researchers note that that although planktonic community lipidomes are affected by numerous environmental factors such as nutrient availability, the paper reports on “the relationship between lipids and arguably the most fundamental control on their composition: temperature.”

Researchers examined the saturation state for the 10 major classes of lipids with glycerol (i.e. glycerolipids) and found that among those classes, “temperature was highly influential in structuring the relative abundance of fatty acid species.” In addition, researchers found a clear transition from lipid species with more unsaturated fatty acids at colder temperatures to fully saturated species at the warmest temperatures.

“These trends are also evident in all the other glycerolipid classes as well as the total aggregated lipidomes of all glycerolipid classes,” the paper states. “Indeed, it is striking that the relationship between temperature and unsaturation emerges from our dataset despite spanning such diverse and disparate planktonic communities, from the nutrient-depleted subtropical gyres to the highly-productive Antarctic coastal shelf.”

The researchers also found that the percent abundance for eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) species showed a strong relationship to temperature. To determine how the upper and lower limits for the composition of EPA might shift under future warming conditions, researchers generated maps using end-of-century sea surface temperature conditions for different climate scenarios. 
Under climate scenario SSP5-85, which the paper notes is considered a worst-case scenario with continued high greenhouse gas emissions, some ocean regions —particularly at higher latitudes—see a drastic decrease of up to -25% of the EPA relative to the amount they have now, according to the paper.

Van Mooy said the research “is another example of how human activities are perturbing the oceans in ways that we never expected, and of the uncertainty of how the ocean is going to respond to warming.”

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June 24, 2022 2:50 am

The lipids are falling! The lipids are falling!

We’re doomed. Doomed, I say.

Reply to  Ivo
June 24, 2022 3:11 am

Thanks, Ivo. That made me smile.


Reply to  Ivo
June 24, 2022 8:42 am

Well the first paragraph is a political bag of poop, so don’t worry: the rest of the “research” is just as bad.

I wonder how they explain how if Omega-3 levels are so badly affected by the less than 0.2°C change per decade in air temperatures and much smaller sea temperatures, then how is there any Omega 3 being produced by the several degree change that happens every day?

Why does ocean productivity increase when the oceans warm up in the respective polar summers?

Why were the very much warmer seas of the Cretaceous and Jurassic periods teeming with much more biodiversity than today’s ice age oceans?

Why don’t climate activist scientists have a clue as to how stupid they sound when they pound the climate doom drum, and much they discredit all of science when they do that?😮

Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to everyone, especially to children in the womb who are no longer non-citizens in the US!

Legal abortion was the first wokeness (politics/economics trumping reason) or was it Nazi death camps? Slavery?

Robert B
Reply to  PCman999
June 24, 2022 2:08 pm

Why did we survive the last interglacial? Homo sapiens seem to have successfully dispersed from Africa when there should have been an Omega 3 famine.

Reply to  Ivo
June 24, 2022 8:56 am

Since they’re basing their predictions on the ridiculous SSP5 (RCP8.5) pathways, we’re only doomed if we start using coal powered cars and trains!

Last edited 10 days ago by PCman999
Reply to  Ivo
June 24, 2022 11:01 am

The lipids are falling!

My doctor tells me that’s a good thing…

June 24, 2022 2:54 am

“…finding that fatty acid unsaturation (i.e., number of carbon to carbon double bonds) is fundamentally constrained by temperature. “

Why are they always reinventing the wheel? It is common knowledge that the addition of a double bond decreases the melting temperature of fatty acids and that the melting temperature increases with the addition of carbon atoms to the hydrocarbon chain.

Omega-3 is hardly likely to be affected by ocean temperatures…

“According to the National Fisheries Institute, low-fat cooking techniques such as broiling, steaming, poaching, baking, stir-frying, sautéing, and grilling are recommended

Deep-frying is not advisable as it can destroy omega-3-fatty acids”

They claim “a strong relationship to temperature”, but there is no mechanism; just the bald statement that ‘the research “is another example of how human activities are perturbing the oceans in ways that we never expected, and of the uncertainty of how the ocean is going to respond to warming.”

It’s garbage.

Sweet Old Bob
Reply to  fretslider
June 24, 2022 8:35 am

Yup. A load of Whooie !


Robert B
Reply to  fretslider
June 24, 2022 2:10 pm

Yes, but we are going to fry rather than pack away the woolies.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  fretslider
June 25, 2022 4:47 am

At best, they are trumpeting that a correlation exists. This is one of my pet peeves with studies of this type, call it a bandwagon bias. The scientists find something interesting and because of “global warming” the two must be directly connected. No study of what the mechanism might be, or how the connection is supposed to work and to what degree. Just a simple conclusion that this “something” has been found to occur so it must be global warming.

When are we going to start seeing studies that tie global cooling to global warming from CO2?

Right-Handed Shark
June 24, 2022 2:55 am

I think I know which of Mr. Woods’ holes this study originated from.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Right-Handed Shark
June 24, 2022 7:34 am


Ron Long
June 24, 2022 3:15 am

WHOI undertakes 7 cruises to 146 ocean locations from 2013 to 2018, and somehow interpret the data as indicating a disastrous response to maybe slight ocean warming? This is not a scientifically defensible finding, this is the blending of some data-collecting with funding schemes. I’m going to eat and enjoy the salmon filet, which is rich in Omega-3, I bought yesterday and laugh at these idiots.

Reply to  Ron Long
June 24, 2022 6:50 am

Well obviously that 0.007 K increase in “average” ocean temperature in that 5 year period really impacted the results. (how many zetajoules is that again?) The fact that the hard limit is still somewhere around 303K doesn’t seem to impact their thinking. Or the fact that El Nino / La Nina variations from year to year are higher than the Argos adjusted average increase.

I was really hopeful for Argos, then they started messing with the numbers instead of going to retrieve suspected low reading floats to do detailed laboratory measurement/calibration to confirm the readings were faulty. There is far too much declaration as outliers of “too cold” readings for my tastes in all of climate science. Most of my electronic thermometers drifted high when I recalibrated them rather than cold so I really don’t get the reasoning.

Loren C. Wilson
Reply to  OweninGA
June 25, 2022 6:25 am

Correct, platinum resistance thermometers are made from quite pure, strain-free platinum wire. If they are mishandled or subject to significant vibration, the very fine wire slowly work-hardens and the resistance goes up. They rarely read low when out of calibration, almost always high.

James Bull
June 24, 2022 3:16 am

So they come out with big bold statements telling us we’re all going to die. This is based on one set of samples that have just been collected and studied, colour me skeptical but wouldn’t they be better having several sets of data to compere.

James Bull

Reply to  James Bull
June 24, 2022 6:22 am

From something I read yesterday, this is about on par with reinterpreting the same data multiple times, and getting contradictory results. “Science” for profit doesn’t seem to reproduce very well, but once you’ve had the headline, who needs the accuracy?

Reply to  max
June 24, 2022 6:43 am

Or the correction…

Reply to  James Bull
June 24, 2022 6:53 am

Big bold statements draw funding.

Five years of data is not enough to say anything about the “trends” toward “we are all going to die if we don’t kill off 90% of the human race due to starvation and deprivation” conclusion.

June 24, 2022 3:22 am

So, human activities and increases in atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases are the problem (again). Does this conclusion include water vapor, the most potent greenhouse gas?

June 24, 2022 3:29 am

So for 99% of Earth’s history that would have been a problem. How did we ever get here ?

Reply to  Robertvd
June 24, 2022 5:35 am

Mostly without agendas but there were parasites along the way. Now we have both.

June 24, 2022 3:50 am

“The effects of global climate change already are resulting in the loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise, and longer and more intense heat waves, among other threats.”

Since this first paragraph is clearly wrong, there is no point in reading the rest.

Reply to  Disputin
June 24, 2022 6:23 am

There’s a reason the “most sensitive parts of the globe” are the hardest to go and visit, yourself. No expanding deserts, no changing farmland qualities, but the ICE IS MELTING! TRUST US!!!

Peta of Newark
June 24, 2022 4:03 am

All fats are good for human critters to consume..
…..they came out of plants and are in any way un-saturated. ##

Yes eating fat is good for humans because when we do eat it, it displaces sugar from our diets and metabolisms – especially inside our brains.
When brains burn Ketones (made by our livers from Sat Fat) they don’t undergo the Dopamine highs and lows they endure while burning Glucose sugar.
As a result the brains function infinetly better, they are not racing from depressive low to euphoric high every 2 hours typically.
They also have much greater mental stamina, clearer thinking, better memories and most important for the survival of the species = what every girl/she/her/female on this Planet is looking for = a GSOH

If only the muppets who did this study consumed even a modest amount of what they profess to know about

## Frankly I find all the huff puff and hho ha about Omega 3s to another example of one tiny trivial research result from somewhere (unknown) being blown out of all proportion. That the only significant source of this stuff is at the very base of the food chain in frigid (ant) arctic waters yet still and ‘Essential Nutrient’ really rather bizarre.
How did that come about. How did an animal evolved on tropical & subtropical grasslands and foressts get to have as an essential dietary requirement something only created under the Antarctic Ocean?

And you thought Climate Science was Kompletely Krazy

Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 24, 2022 7:31 am

“All fats are good for human critters to consume”
Pizza Pie?
Pork sausages?
Swiss cheese?
My diet is finally justified.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Richard Greene
June 24, 2022 11:21 am

Is your belt size Equator?

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Tom in Florida
June 26, 2022 6:25 am

Why would you think that? You’re more likely to LOSE weight on a high fat diet.

June 24, 2022 4:03 am

Ah, but will Climate Change Lead to A Dramatic Decrease in Fatty asses?
That is what will really improve the lives of BILLIONS of obese humans.

Ken Irwin
June 24, 2022 4:15 am

I’m guessing the author wanted an Antarctic cruise without paying for it.
Invented a totally fictitious problem and justified his ticket by finding the answer he was looking for.
I call B.S.

June 24, 2022 4:19 am

And the Krill Liberation Front are cheering for Japanese whalers and want bans on krill oil capsules for inner city trendies. Those baleen Southern Rights doubling every 10 years are capable of slaughtering 2 tonnes of krill a day each before nicking off for 6 months to breed. Where’s the support for the little guy when there’s renewable whale oil going begging?

Gregory Woods
June 24, 2022 4:30 am

The effects of global climate change already are resulting in the loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise, and longer and more intense heat waves, among other threats.

Mandatory opening paragraph for any article about AGW…

Carlo, Monte
June 24, 2022 4:34 am

Better question: Is there anything that cannot be “linked to climate change”?

Gunga Din
Reply to  Carlo, Monte
June 24, 2022 10:45 am

Even better question: Is there any funding for any “study” that is not “linked to climate change”?

June 24, 2022 4:38 am

Then of course, “…loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise, and longer and more intense heat waves…” are not occurring as can be seen by a very simple observation of the data. Oh well.  

Climate believer
June 24, 2022 4:50 am

“Under climate scenario SSP5-85…….see a drastic decrease of up to -25% of the EPA relative to the amount they have now, according to the paper.”

Since they can’t deny that increased levels of CO² and slightly warmer sea temperature have increased plankton populations, (thus I presume having a positive effect on the food chain upwards), they have to find a tiny negative extreme case scenario to keep the alarmist bell ringing.

This is scrapping the barrel.

Captain climate
Reply to  Climate believer
June 24, 2022 5:36 am

They did the same shit a few years back with crop yields. Sugars go up with longer growing seasons but other nutrients like minerals go down. They have to look for the cloud in every silver link g.

Reply to  Climate believer
June 24, 2022 7:03 pm

the bottom of it… a little more scraping & they’ll have done wore a hole in the damn thang

June 24, 2022 5:14 am

It took a bit of digging to find the data from the actual paper but it turns out their samples ranged in termperature from 0 degrees to 30 degrees. So they measured the world as it exists now and observed less lipids at warmer temps which we are somehow surviving just fine.

They did ZERO research on an actual change in temperature to those species at those locations over time. So they didn’t even study the very effect the purport to be reporting on.

This defies ridicule.

Last edited 10 days ago by davidmhoffer
H. D. Hoese
Reply to  davidmhoffer
June 24, 2022 8:51 am

Thanks for the link, “Homeoviscous adaptation in plankton” is another unfamiliar subject.
I’ve always been a little short on ocean organic chemistry, some due to its incredible complications. Don’t doubt that the technology is better, but they have been measured for decades in estuaries where temperatures fluctuate the most. Ocean critters, like humans, love fats.

Even giving them the benefit of the doubt why ruin it with statements like this –“ We predict significant declines in the essential fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] over the next century, which are likely to have serious deleterious effects on economically critical fisheries,,,,”  Long way to get to a fish, suspect that they are way, way, way short on ocean organic chemistry.

Woods Hole was (past tense) among the greatest leaders in Oceanography.

Captain climate
June 24, 2022 5:22 am

Utterly garbage science. They took many species across many locations and then just decided that temperature was the driving factor in the observed differences.

Reply to  Captain climate
June 24, 2022 7:01 am

It is. The species that have the lower melting temp fatty acids stay toward the poles and the ones with higher melting temp fatty acids live where it is warmer. Do they deny that species adapt for the environment they live in?

Omega-3 fish tend to be found in colder waters for a reason – that is where their food species live. Their ranges will expand equatorward in cold times and pole ward in warmer. This has been known for a very long time.

Captain climate
June 24, 2022 5:37 am

Can we please bombard these institutions with intelligent ridicule when the publish this crap?

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
June 24, 2022 5:39 am

Climate change is leading to a vast increase in baldness and dandruff. Please send research funds immediately and wear reflective hats.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
June 24, 2022 10:49 am

They already wear tinfoil hats.
(They help keep opposing views from interfering with their brainwaves.)

June 24, 2022 5:39 am

So, overfishing with Chinese fleets will not do it. This is yet another case of “look the other way on the environmental issues” for advocacy and agenda science.

June 24, 2022 5:40 am

The fear porn science associated with supporting the CAGW message is utterly shameless.

June 24, 2022 6:09 am

Ooops == another claim that a study “found” data about the future. What they really found was not change over time over temperature, but differences between planktons in cold waters and warmer waters. The claims are fallacious, at best.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
June 24, 2022 7:45 am

Hansen, you don’t understand leftist “future thinking” Everything is bad today. Even with Dumbocrats in charge. (Especially with Dumbocrats in charge) And the future can only get worse, never better. How do they know that? Because their scientists say so.

A leftist will believe any claim that follows “Scientists say”. I know this for a fact because if leftist friends ever bring up the climate or energy, I invent a factoid on the spot, and start with “Scientists say …” Fools them every time. Cheap entertainment for me.

Climate change apparently causes every problem in the world, from cancer to warts. The “answer” is to put leftists in charge. They won’t solve any problems.
In fact, they ruin everything they touch. But they like telling everyone what to do and being in charge keeps them off the streets (those peaceful protests). A better solution would be to deport all US leftists to Bulgaria. But Bulgaria won’t take them.

Reply to  Richard Greene
June 24, 2022 8:30 am

Richard ==> Yeah, but they choose their scientists very carefully and only believe those who say what they desire to be true…..

T Gasloli
June 24, 2022 6:36 am

Well here is a candidate for a line item veto. Zero out their funding; they are useless.

June 24, 2022 6:42 am

Whatever happened to good experimental design?

Reply to  fretslider
June 24, 2022 7:14 am

We are talking Climate Science ™ so long as the answer is right the mafia don’t care.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  LdB
June 24, 2022 8:32 am

But why did they need to go to those cold inhospitable places when they could just have stayed home and made it up? None of their colleagues would have objected.

Last edited 10 days ago by Dave Andrews
Gunga Din
Reply to  Dave Andrews
June 24, 2022 10:58 am

Travel expenses.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Gunga Din
June 24, 2022 4:56 pm

Yes, air miles, points, helps to pay for the trip to Sharm el Sheik this fall.

Gravy train needs grease on the wheels

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Dave Andrews
June 25, 2022 4:57 am

You don’t understand budgeting. You must have expenses this year in order to request more spending for next year. It is a positive feedback.

I used to see this in business. Cut and save for 3 quarters of the year and then buy everything you possibly can in the last quarter to make sure we covered what was budgeted for expenses.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  fretslider
June 24, 2022 9:27 am

It was destroyed by global warming.

Gordon A. Dressler
June 24, 2022 6:43 am

Besides eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the other major forms of Omega-3 fatty acids are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

EPA that originates from plankton in the world’s ocean surface layer is what ultimately ends up as the major component of this Omega-3 fatty acid in fish and shellfish. However, that is not the complete story.

“Seaweed and algae are important sources of omega-3 for people on a vegetarian or vegan diet, as they are one of the few plant groups that contain DHA and EPA.”
— source:

Bottom line: don’t panic over a story that is headlined with the inclusion of the word “could”.

Last edited 10 days ago by Gordon A. Dressler
June 24, 2022 6:47 am

Leave the oceans alone…grab a bottle of Virgin Olive Oil and guzzle it down…..there ….satisfied?….that was quality stuff, no?

June 24, 2022 6:48 am

Are we talking about the Omega-3 fatty acids that were proven to have no health benefits at all?

Tom Halla
June 24, 2022 6:52 am

Anyone using RCP8.5 should be forced to put a “Climate Porn!” Disclaimer on it.

June 24, 2022 9:17 am

Who cares about the weather?

“A CLOSE Putin ally and reservist general has called for London to be nuked first when World War Three breaks out.”

That will see temperatures go up to say the least

Last edited 10 days ago by fretslider
June 24, 2022 9:31 am

More “it’s climate change wot done it”. They will never run out of anomalies to blame on CC.

Clyde Spencer
June 24, 2022 9:35 am

… the paper reports on “the relationship between lipids and arguably the most fundamental control on their composition: temperature.”

“Arguably?” Absolutely!

What is the quantitative relationship? Is it linear? If so, what is the trend, and over what range? Does it follow a power rule? Lastly, are these ‘researchers’ innumerate? Or, do they think that science can be done with hand waving and the use of words like “could, may, and possibly?”

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
June 24, 2022 1:32 pm

Answer to your last 2 questions is YES.

Ohh you were being rhetorical…I always miss that…

Kevin McNeill
June 24, 2022 10:53 am

Stopped reading after the first sentence of BS.

June 24, 2022 10:59 am

More “Could Be” Science

Gunga Din
June 24, 2022 11:00 am

As long as we can still activate the Omega-13 ….

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Gunga Din
June 24, 2022 11:23 am

Never give up, never surrender!

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Gunga Din
June 24, 2022 4:54 pm


June 24, 2022 1:50 pm

Ocean life is on the brink of disaster; any more heat will kill everything.

Also, in France, it’s forbidden but well known that the waters around Atlantic Ocean nukes are good fishing places. People are told to not fish there but they still do.

Fishes come to warm waters, don’t they know it’s warm water is bad?

Andy Pattullo
June 24, 2022 7:27 pm

The chain of “logic” is more like a nebulous fabric of wet tissue paper and wishful thinking. Science is becoming a lost art.

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