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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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Niche construction by non-diazotrophs for N2 fixers in the eastern tropical North Atlantic Ocean

Abstract.

"Diazotrophic dinitrogen (N2) fixation contributes ~76% to “new” nitrogen inputs to the sunlit open ocean, but environmental factors determining N2 fixation rates are not well constrained. Excess phosphate (phosphate–nitrate/16 > 0) and iron availability control N2 fixation rates in the eastern tropical North Atlantic (ETNA), but it remains an open question how excess phosphate is generated within or supplied to the phosphate-depleted sunlit layer. [...]"

Source: Geophysical Research Letters
Authors: Arvind Singh et al.
DOI: 10.1002/2017GL074218

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Historical records of coastal eutrophication-induced hypoxia

Abstract.

"Under certain conditions, sediment cores from coastal settings subject to hypoxia can yield records of environmental changes over time scales ranging from decades to millennia, sometimes with a resolution of as little as a few years. A variety of biological and geochemical indicators (proxies) derived from such cores have been used to reconstruct the development of eutrophication and hypoxic conditions over time. [...]"

Source: Biogeosciences
Authors: A. J. Gooday et al.
DOI: 10.5194/bg-6-1707-2009

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U.N. Moved to Protect 60% of the Ocean and the World Hardly Noticed

"After years of talks, the U.N. has taken a major step toward an international treaty to preserve the biodiversity of the high seas to combat climate change, overfishing and plastic pollution.

[...] The move, which ended two weeks of sometimes contentious talks to hash out the major elements of the treaty, could result in far-reaching protections for marine life through the creation of reserves and other actions designed to blunt threats to ocean health from climate change, over-fishing and pollution. The high seas constitute the nearly 60 percent of the ocean beyond any nation’s jurisdiction. They play a crucial role in the global climate, food supply and economy, yet are largely beyond the reach of the law. [...]"

Source: Newsdeeply

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Biological nitrogen fixation in the oxygen-minimum region of the eastern tropical North Pacific ocean

Abstract.

"Biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) was investigated above and within the oxygen-depleted waters of the oxygen-minimum zone of the Eastern Tropical North Pacific Ocean. BNF rates were estimated using an isotope tracer method that overcame the uncertainty of the conventional bubble method by directly measuring the tracer enrichment during the incubations. Highest rates of BNF (~4 nM day−1) occurred in coastal surface waters and lowest detectable rates (~0.2 nM day−1) were found in the anoxic region of offshore stations. [...]"

Source: The ISME Journal
Authors: Amal Jayakuma et al.
DOI: 10.1038/ismej.2017.97

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Oceanic nitrogen cycling and N2O flux perturbations in the Anthropocene

Abstract.

"There is currently no consensus on how humans are affecting the marine nitrogen (N) cycle, which limits marine biological production and CO2 uptake. Anthropogenic changes in ocean warming, deoxygenation, and atmospheric N deposition can all individually affect the marine N cycle and the oceanic production of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O). However, the combined effect of these perturbations on marine N cycling, ocean productivity, and marine N2O production is poorly understood. Here we use an Earth system model of intermediate complexity to investigate the combined effects of estimated 21st century CO2 atmospheric forcing and atmospheric N deposition.  [...]"

Source: Global Biogeochemical Cycles
Authors: A. Landolfi, C. Somes, W. Koeve, L. M. Zamora, A. Oschlies
DOI: 10.1002/2017GB005633

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