Why global warming will make the world smellier

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It's hard to know where to begin when calculating the effects that climate change might have on our planet, but I'm guessing most people haven't considered the smell factor. Global warming could super-charge the production of a particularly smelly gas.

The problem starts in the Southern Ocean, which encircles Antarctica. That's the natural habitat of a type of plankton that produces a sulfur compound known as dimethyl sulfide, or DMS. As anyone who has spent time near geysers can attest, sulfur isn't known for its pleasant aroma, and this particular compound is described as smelling "like cabbage or fishy and tangy", none of which are particularly pleasant.

Climate scientists at California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory modeled the plankton population and its DMS production using various predicted values for rising carbon dioxide levels. In one of the most likely future warming scenarios, they found DMS emission increased 150%. That could make for a far more pungent sea, particularly for those in southern hemisphere. However, it's not clear whether increased carbon dioxide will make the oceans more acidic, which would kill off some of the plankton and thus bring DMS levels back closer to normal.


Here's the real takeaway from all this. If you're planning a beach vacation in Argentina for the mid-2040s - and who isn't? - I'd advise packing nose plugs. Just to be safe.

Via Cosmic Log. Image via.