Scientists have just detected a major change to the Earth’s oceans linked to a warming climate
"A large research synthesis, published in one of the world’s most influential scientific journals, has detected a decline in the amount of dissolved oxygen in oceans around the world — a long-predicted result of climate change that could have severe consequences for marine organisms if it continues."
Hypoxia causes preservation of labile organic matter and changes seafloor microbial community composition (Black Sea)
Bottom-water oxygen supply is a key factor governing the biogeochemistry and community composition of marine sediments. Whether it also determines carbon burial rates remains controversial. We investigated the effect of varying oxygen concentrations (170 to 0 μM O2) on microbial remineralization of organic matter in seafloor sediments and on community diversity of the northwestern Crimean shelf break. This study shows that 50% more organic matter is preserved in surface sediments exposed to hypoxia compared to oxic bottom waters. Hypoxic conditions inhibit bioturbation and decreased remineralization rates even within short periods of a few days. These conditions led to the accumulation of threefold more phytodetritus pigments within 40 years compared to the oxic zone. Bacterial community structure also differed between oxic, hypoxic, and anoxic zones. Functional groups relevant in the degradation of particulate organic matter, such as Flavobacteriia, Gammaproteobacteria, and Deltaproteobacteria, changed with decreasing oxygenation, and the microbial community of the hypoxic zone took longer to degrade similar amounts of deposited reactive matter. We conclude that hypoxic bottom-water conditions—even on short time scales—substantially increase the preservation potential of organic matter because of the negative effects on benthic fauna and particle mixing and by favoring anaerobic processes, including sulfurization of matter.
Low bottom-water oxygen leads to more organic matter ending up on the seafloor
Periodic oscillations of bottom-water oxygen concentrations can alter benthic communities and carbon storage for decades, reveals a new study published in Science Advances. This is particularly relevant as low oxygen conditions are on the rise in the world's oceans.
Periodic hypoxia in the deep sea with long-term consequences
Low bottom-water oxygen leads to more organic matter ending up on the seafloor
Periodic oscillations of bottom-water oxygen concentrations can alter benthic communities and carbon storage for decades, reveals a new study published in Science Advances. This is particularly relevant as low oxygen conditions are on the rise in the world’s oceans.
Redox chemistry changes in the Panthalassic Ocean linked to the end-Permian mass extinction and delayed Early Triassic biotic recovery
The end-Permian mass extinction represents the most severe biotic crisis for the last 540 million years, and the marine ecosystem recovery from this extinction was protracted, spanning the entirety of the Early Triassic and possibly longer. Numerous studies from the low-latitude Paleotethys and high-latitude Boreal oceans have examined the possible link between ocean chemistry changes and the end-Permian mass extinction. However, redox chemistry changes in the Panthalassic Ocean, comprising ∼85–90% of the global ocean area, remain under debate. Here, we report multiple S-isotopic data of pyrite from Upper Permian–Lower Triassic deep-sea sediments of the Panthalassic Ocean, now present in outcrops of western Canada and Japan. [...]
Metagenomic Binning Recovers a Transcriptionally Active Gammaproteobacterium Linking Methanotrophy to Partial Denitrification in an Anoxic OMZ
Diverse planktonic microorganisms play a crucial role in mediating methane flux from the ocean to the atmosphere. The distribution and composition of the marine methanotroph community is determined partly by oxygen availability. The low oxygen conditions of oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) may select for methanotrophs that oxidize methane using inorganic nitrogen compounds (e.g., nitrate, nitrite) in place of oxygen. However, environmental evidence for methane-nitrogen linkages in OMZs remains sparse, as does our knowledge of the genomic content and metabolic capacity of organisms catalyzing OMZ methane oxidation. Here, binning of metagenome sequences from a coastal anoxic OMZ recovered the first near complete (95%) draft genome representing the methanotroph clade OPU3. Phylogenetic reconstruction of concatenated single copy marker genes confirmed the OPU3-like bacterium as a divergent member of the type Ia methanotrophs, with an estimated genome size half that of other sequenced taxa in this group. The proportional abundance of this bacterium peaked at 4% of the total microbial community at the top of the anoxic zone in areas of nitrite and nitrate availability but low methane concentrations. Genes mediating dissimilatory nitrate and nitrite reduction were identified in the OPU3 genome, and transcribed in conjunction with key enzymes catalyzing methane oxidation to formaldehyde and the ribulose monophosphate (RuMP) pathway for formaldehyde assimilation, suggesting partial denitrification linked to methane oxidation. Together, these data provide the first field-based evidence for methanotrophic partial denitrification by the OPU3 cluster under anoxic conditions, supporting a role for OMZs as key sites in pelagic methane turnover.
N2 production rates limited by nitrite availability in the Bay of Bengal oxygen minimum zone
A third or more of the fixed nitrogen lost from the oceans as N2 is removed by anaerobic microbial processes in open ocean oxygen minimum zones. These zones have expanded over the past decades, and further anthropogenically induced expansion could accelerate nitrogen loss. However, in the Bay of Bengal there has been no indication of nitrogen loss, although oxygen levels are below the detection level of conventional methods (1 to 2 μM). Here we quantify the abundance of microbial genes associated with N2 production, measure nitrogen transformations in incubations of sampled seawater with isotopically labelled nitrogen compounds and analyse geochemical signatures of these processes in the water column. We find that the Bay of Bengal supports denitrifier and anammox microbial populations, mediating low, but significant N loss. Yet, unlike other oxygen minimum zones, our measurements using a highly sensitive oxygen sensor demonstrate that the Bay of Bengal has persistent concentrations of oxygen in the 10 to 200 nM range. We propose that this oxygen supports nitrite oxidation, thereby restricting the nitrite available for anammox or denitrification. If these traces of oxygen were removed, nitrogen loss in the Bay of Bengal oxygen minimum zone waters could accelerate to global significance.
NCCOS: Price of Shrimp Impacted by Gulf of Mexico “Dead Zone”
The low oxygen conditions slow shrimp growth, leading to fewer and more expensive large shrimp.
The Guardian: Bay of Bengal: depleted fish stocks and huge dead zone signal tipping point
"Long treated as a bottomless resource pit, over-exploitation of the ocean, pollution and rising sea levels are having a catastrophic impact on life in the bay."
SFB 754 International Conference
The distribution of oxygen in the ocean is controlled by physical, biogeochemical and biological processes. Both the supply and consumption of oxygen are sensitive to climate change in ways that are not fully understood.
Recent observations suggest that the oxygen content of the ocean is declining (ocean deoxygenation) and that oxygen minimum zones and coastal hypoxia sites are expanding with tremendous effects on the ocean’s ecosystems and living organisms.
This conference will:
- focus on the past, present and future state of oxygen in the ocean on global, regional and local scales
- nalyse mechanisms and feedbacks critical to identify natural and anthropogenic causes of oxygen variability
- determine impacts on biogeochemical cycles and ecosystems
The call for submission opens December 2017.
Start Date: 9/2/18