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Study estimates oxygen loss in ancient global ocean

A loss of oxygen in global ocean seawater 94 million years ago led to a mass extinction of marine life that lasted for roughly half a million years.

Scientists have found several potential explanations for how the loss of oxygen happened. These could include enhanced volcanic activity, increased nutrients reaching the ocean, rising sea levels, and warming sea and surface temperatures. But to point a finger at any one cause (or several of them) requires knowing how fast the oxygen loss happened.

A new technique, developed by Arizona State University graduate student Chad Ostrander with colleagues at Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Florida State University (FSU), has put a timetable on the oxygen loss associated with this major ocean extinction event, which is known to science as Oceanic Anoxic Event 2.

Source: phys.org

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Water quality measurements in San Francisco Bay by the U.S. Geological Survey, 1969–2015

Abstract.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) maintains a place-based research program in San Francisco Bay (USA) that began in 1969 and continues, providing one of the longest records of water-quality measurements in a North American estuary. Constituents include salinity, temperature, light extinction coefficient, and concentrations of chlorophyll-a, dissolved oxygen, suspended particulate matter, nitrate, nitrite, ammonium, silicate, and phosphate.

Source: Scientific Data
Authors: Tara S. Schraga & James E. Cloern
DOI: 10.1038/sdata.2017.98

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Climate change and ocean deoxygenation within intensified surface-driven upwelling circulations

Abstract.

"Ocean deoxygenation often takes place in proximity to zones of intense upwelling. Associated concerns about amplified ocean deoxygenation arise from an arguable likelihood that coastal upwelling systems in the world's oceans may further intensify as anthropogenic climate change proceeds. Comparative examples discussed include the uniquely intense seasonal Somali Current upwelling, the massive upwelling that occurs quasi-continuously off Namibia and the recently appearing and now annually recurring ‘dead zone’ off the US State of Oregon. [...]"

Source: The Royal Society
Author: Andrew Bakun
DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2016.0327

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Ocean ventilation and deoxygenation in a warming world: introduction and overview

Abstract.

"Changes of ocean ventilation rates and deoxygenation are two of the less obvious but important indirect impacts expected as a result of climate change on the oceans. They are expected to occur because of (i) the effects of increased stratification on ocean circulation and hence its ventilation, due to reduced upwelling, deep-water formation and turbulent mixing, (ii) reduced oxygenation through decreased oxygen solubility at higher surface temperature, and (iii) the effects of warming on biological production, respiration and remineralization. The potential socio-economic consequences of reduced oxygen levels on fisheries and ecosystems may be far-reaching and significant. [...]"

Source: The Royal Society
Authors: John G. Shepherd, Peter G. Brewer, Andreas Oschlies, Andrew J. Watson
DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2017.0240

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A model study of warming-induced phosphorus–oxygen feedbacks in open-ocean oxygen minimum zones on millennial timescales

Abstract.

"Observations indicate an expansion of oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) over the past 50 years, likely related to ongoing deoxygenation caused by reduced oxygen solubility, changes in stratification and circulation, and a potential acceleration of organic matter turnover in a warming climate. The overall area of ocean sediments that are in direct contact with low-oxygen bottom waters also increases with expanding OMZs. This leads to a release of phosphorus from ocean sediments. If anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions continue unabated, higher temperatures will cause enhanced weathering on land, which, in turn, will increase the phosphorus and alkalinity fluxes into the ocean and therefore raise the ocean's phosphorus inventory even further. [...]"

Source: Earth System Dynamics
Authors: Daniela Niemeyer, Tronje P. Kemena, Katrin J. Meissner, and Andreas Oschlies
DOI: 10.5194/esd-8-357-2017

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Meat industry blamed for largest-ever 'dead zone' in Gulf of Mexico

"The global meat industry, already implicated in driving global warming and deforestation, has now been blamed for fueling what is expected to be the worst “dead zone” on record in the Gulf of Mexico.

Toxins from manure and fertiliser pouring into waterways are exacerbating huge, harmful algal blooms that create oxygen-deprived stretches of the gulf, the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay, according to a new report by Mighty, an environmental group chaired by former congressman Henry Waxman. [...]"

Source: The Guardian

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Gulf of Mexico ‘dead zone’ is the largest ever measured

"Scientists have determined this year’s Gulf of Mexico “dead zone,” an area of low oxygen that can kill fish and marine life, is 8,776 square miles, an area about the size of New Jersey. It is the largest measured since dead zone mapping began there in 1985." 

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

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Ensemble modeling informs hypoxia management in the northern Gulf of Mexico

Abstract.

"A large region of low-dissolved-oxygen bottom waters (hypoxia) forms nearly every summer in the northern Gulf of Mexico because of nutrient inputs from the Mississippi River Basin and water column stratification. Policymakers developed goals to reduce the area of hypoxic extent because of its ecological, economic, and commercial fisheries impacts. However, the goals remain elusive after 30 y of research and monitoring and 15 y of goal-setting and assessment because there has been little change in river nitrogen concentrations. [...]"

Source: Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)
Authors: Donald Scavia et al.
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1705293114 

 

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Microbial oxidation as a methane sink beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Anstract.

"Aquatic habitats beneath ice masses contain active microbial ecosystems capable of cycling important greenhouse gases, such as methane (CH4). A large methane reservoir is thought to exist beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, but its quantity, source and ultimate fate are poorly understood. For instance, O2 supplied by basal melting should result in conditions favourable for aerobic methane oxidation. Here we use measurements of methane concentrations and stable isotope compositions along with genomic analyses to assess the sources and cycling of methane in Subglacial Lake Whillans (SLW) in West Antarctica. [...]"

Source: Nature Geoscience
Authors: Alexander B. Michaud et al.
DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2992

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Impact of glacial/interglacial sea level change on the ocean nitrogen cycle

Abstract.

"The continental shelves are the most biologically dynamic regions of the ocean, and they are extensive worldwide, especially in the western North Pacific. Their area has varied dramatically over the glacial/interglacial cycles of the last million years, but the effects of this variation on ocean biological and chemical processes remain poorly understood. Conversion of nitrate to N2 by denitrification in sediments accounts for half or more of the removal of biologically available nitrogen (“fixed N”) from the ocean. The emergence of continental shelves during ice ages and their flooding during interglacials have been hypothesized to drive changes in sedimentary denitrification. [...]"

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)
Authors: Haojia Ren et al.
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1701315114

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