News

Gulf of Mexico dead zone not expected to shrink anytime soon

"Achieving water quality goals for the Gulf of Mexico may take decades, according to findings by researchers at the University of Waterloo.

The results, which appear in Science, suggest that policy goals for reducing the size of the northern Gulf of Mexico's dead zone may be unrealistic, and that major changes in agricultural and river management practices may be necessary to achieve the desired improvements in water quality.

The transport of large quantities of nitrogen from rivers and streams across the North American corn belt has been linked to the development of a large dead zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico, where massive algal blooms lead to oxygen depletion, making it difficult for marine life to survive.

"Despite the investment of large amounts of money in recent years to improve water quality, the area of last year's dead zone was more than 22,000 km2—about the size of the state of New Jersey," said Kimberly Van Meter, lead author of the paper and a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Waterloo. [...]"

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Dealing with Dead Zones: Hypoxia in the Ocean

When water runs off of farmland and urban centers and flows into our streams and rivers, it is often chock-full of fertilizers and other nutrients. These massive loads of nutrients eventually end up in our coastal ocean, fueling a chain of events that can lead to hypoxic "dead zones" — areas along the sea floor where oxygen is so low it can no longer sustain marine life. In this episode, we're joined by NOAA scientist Alan Lewitus to explore why dead zones form, how the problem of hypoxia is growing worse, and what we're doing about it.

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Author: Troy Kitch

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Earth’s Oceans Suffocate as Climate Change and Nutrient Loading Create “Dead Zones”

"A new research study from a Global Ocean Oxygen Network (GO2NE) team of scientists reveals that the number of low- and zero oxygen sites in the world’s oceans have increased dramatically in the past 50 years. The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations created the GO2NE working group to provide a multidisciplinary, global view of deoxygenation, with the end goal of advising policymakers on preserving marine resources by countering low oxygen. [...]"

Source: environmental monitor
Author: Karla Lant

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Gulf of Mexico Battles Expanding Dead Zone in Louisiana

"During the summer of 2017, researchers with the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) and Louisiana State University mapped the largest dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico to date.

The Gulf of Mexico meets the shorelines of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and western Florida and is home to a large fishing industry. Several rivers from the Midwestern watershed flow south into the Gulf, carrying with them sediment, nutrient loads, and pollution from fossil fuel burning and wastewater systems.
The problem isn’t new, but it is expanding. "

Author: Mindy Cooper
Source: Environmental Monitor

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A Giant Blob of Floodwater From Harvey Is Still Moving Through the Gulf

"The rain began on August 25, and it would fall, remarkably, for four more days. We know now that Hurricane Harvey dumped as much as 60 inches of rain over parts of Texas. Twenty trillion gallons in all. The equivalent of the entire Chesapeake Bay. Enough to push the Earth’s crust down two centimeters. [...]

What oceanographers do know about the interface of freshwater and ocean comes from studying rivers that naturally empty into the sea. The key is density. Because freshwater lacks dissolved salt, it is less dense and floats atop seawater. It becomes a barrier between the air and the ocean water, which can have nasty consequences. “The freshwater sitting on the salty water cuts off the oxygen from the atmosphere getting into the ocean, and then you get the dead zone,” says Steve DiMarco [...]"

Source: The Atlantic

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Chesapeake Bay dead zone this summer worst since 2014

In June, federal scientists predicted a bigger-than-average oxygen-deprived dead zone in the Chesapeake Bay this summer, and it turns out they were right.

Researchers with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science who study bay hypoxia announced Monday that the total amount of dead zones this summer was the worst since 2014, and a 10 percent increase over last year.

Source: Daily Press

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Low Oxygen Dead Zones in the Pacific Ocean are Growing

"Every year, we see wildfires wreak havoc on large regions of the West United States, and each year scientists attempt to forecast exactly how bad the upcoming fire season is going to be by assessing things like weather, moisture levels, and a bevy of different factors. [...]"

Source: Mind Guild

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Macroalgal Blooms on the Rise along the Coast of China

Abstract.

"A broad spectrum of events that come under the category of macroalgal blooms are recognized world-wide as a response to elevated levels of eutrophication in coastal areas. In the Yellow Sea of China, green tides have consecutively occurred 10 years, which is considered as the world’s largest Ulva blooms. However, in recently years, golden tides caused by Sargassum seaweed have also been on the rapid rise, resulting in dramatic damage to the environment and economy again.  [...]"

Source: Oceanography & Fisheries
Authors: Jianheng Zhang, Yuanzi Huo and Peimin He 
DOI: 10.19080/OFOAJ.2017.04.555646

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Metabolic Roles of Uncultivated Bacterioplankton Lineages in the Northern Gulf of Mexico “Dead Zone”

Abstract.

"Marine regions that have seasonal to long-term low dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations, sometimes called “dead zones,” are increasing in number and severity around the globe with deleterious effects on ecology and economics. One of the largest of these coastal dead zones occurs on the continental shelf of the northern Gulf of Mexico (nGOM), which results from eutrophication-enhanced bacterioplankton respiration and strong seasonal stratification. [...]"

Source: mBio
Authors: J. Cameron Thrash et al.
DOI: 10.1128/mBio.01017-17

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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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