Friday, May 02, 2008

Ocean "Dead Zones" Growing

They're called "Dead Zones," vast areas of ocean that are so hpoxic, lacking in oxygen, that they can't support marine life. Global warming climate change models predicted that these dead zones in tropical areas of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans would expand and the latest research shows those predictions were spot on. From the Los Angeles Times:

"Oxygen-starved waters are expanding in the Pacific and Atlantic as ocean temperatures increase with global warming, threatening fisheries and other marine life, a study published today concludes.

Most of these zones remain hundreds of feet below the surface, but they are beginning to spill onto the relatively shallow continental shelf off the coast of California and are nearing the surface off Peru, driving away fish from commercially important fishing grounds, researchers have found.

Researchers believe these phenomena are linked to subsurface layers of hypoxic water in the tropical Pacific and Atlantic oceans that have been thickening over the last 50 years, according to the analysis published today in the journal Science.

The study, led by Lothar Stramma at the University of Kiel in Germany, warns that the spread of hypoxic waters that suffocate marine life is consistent with climate models forecasting what would happen as greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere.

The trend, the study points out, eerily echoes a scenario that unfolded about 250 million years ago, when 95% of life on Earth went extinct after heat-trapping carbon dioxide spewing from volcanoes warmed the planet and the oceans became stripped of oxygen.",0,1285619.story?track=ntothtml

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