Monday, August 2, 2010

Dead zones and more good news :+( about the ocean

Following up on the previous post, here is a post from Garry Peterson of Resilience Science.


I’ve published several links to global maps of coastal hypoxia. Now, NASA has produced a new map of global hypoxic zones, based on Diaz and Rosenberg’s . Spreading Dead Zones and Consequences for Marine Ecosystems. in Science, 321(5891), 926-929. NASA’s EOS Image of the Day writes on Aquatic Dead Zones.

Red circles on this map show the location and size of many of our planet’s dead zones. Black dots show where dead zones have been observed, but their size is unknown.

It’s no coincidence that dead zones occur downriver of places where human population density is high (darkest brown). Some of the fertilizer we apply to crops is washed into streams and rivers. Fertilizer-laden runoff triggers explosive planktonic algae growth in coastal areas. The algae die and rain down into deep waters, where their remains are like fertilizer for microbes. The microbes decompose the organic matter, using up the oxygen. Mass killing of fish and other sea life often results.

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