PENARTH sailing charity Challenge Wales has joined Plymouth University in a unique global study to record the effects of climate change.

Seafarers worldwide are being encouraged to download an app that allows users to input data about phytoplankton levels.

Scientists believe the population of the Phytoplankton, minute organisms at the very start of the marine food chain, could be in decline due to rising sea temperatures. If this proves true, it could have consequences for every aspect of marine life.

The project aims to build a map of the oceans that charts the changes of the minute organisms using a free app developed by marine experts.

Along with the app, the user creates a Secchi Disk, a 30cm diameter white disk attached to a tape measure, which is lowered over the side of a boat and the depth at which it disappears from sight estimates the amount of phytoplankton in the sea.

Now, Challenge Wales has joined the study, hoping to teach young people to use the disk and learn about the effects of climate change.

Vicky Williams, Trustee of Challenge Wales, said: “This year World Environment Day falls on June 5 and what better way to raise awareness of environmental issues in the sea than by launching our Secchi disk science project. As we sail to different parts of Wales and the UK the young people onboard will be able to play their part in this project.”

Dr Richard Kirby, who is leading the study at Plymouth University, said: "As the phytoplankton live at the surface of the sea they are being affected by rising sea temperatures due to climate change. A scientific paper published last year suggested the ocean's plankton population had declined by as much as 40 per cent since 1950 as sea temperatures had warmed due to climate change.

"The Secchi App team are delighted Challenge Wales are measuring phytoplankton with a Secchi Disk. Challenge Wales joining the global Secchi Disk project will make a real difference to understanding the biology of the sea."