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The Ocean Is Running Out of Breath, Scientists Warn

Widespread and sometimes drastic marine oxygen declines are stressing sensitive species—a trend that will continue with climate change

"Escaping predators, digestion and other animal activities—including those of humans—require oxygen. But that essential ingredient is no longer so easy for marine life to obtain, several new studies reveal.

In the past decade ocean oxygen levels have taken a dive—an alarming trend that is linked to climate change, says Andreas Oschlies, an oceanographer at the Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany, whose team tracks ocean oxygen levels worldwide. “We were surprised by the intensity of the changes we saw, how rapidly oxygen is going down in the ocean and how large the effects on marine ecosystems are,” he says. [...]"

Source: Scientific American
Author: Laura Poppick

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Slaking the world’s thirst with seawater dumps toxic brine in oceans

"Growing populations and tightening water supplies have spurred people in many places—including the Middle East, Australia, California and China—to look to the oceans and other salty waters as a source of new drinking water. But desalination plants are energy intensive and create a potentially environment-harming waste called brine (made up of concentrated salt and chemical residues), which is dumped into the ocean, injected underground or spread on land.

Despite the ecological threats, “there was no comprehensive assessment about brine—how much we produce,” says Manzoor Qadir, assistant director of the United Nations University Institute on Water, Environment and Health. So he and his colleagues calculated that figure and found it is 50 percent greater than the desalination industry’s previous rough estimate. In fact, it is enough to cover Florida with 30 centimeters of brine every year. [...]"

Source: Scientific American

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Much of the surface ocean will shift in color by end of 21st century

"Climate change is causing significant changes to phytoplankton in the world's oceans, and a new MIT study finds that over the coming decades these changes will affect the ocean's color, intensifying its blue regions and its green ones. Satellites should detect these changes in hue, providing early warning of wide-scale changes to marine ecosystems. [...]"

Source: ScienceDaily

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URI researchers: Small changes in oxygen levels have big implications for ocean life

Oceanographers at the University of Rhode Island have found that even slight levels of ocean oxygen loss, or deoxygenation, have big consequences for tiny marine organisms called zooplankton.

Zooplankton are important components of the food web in the expanse of deep, open ocean called the midwater. Within this slice of ocean below the surface and above the seafloor are oxygen minimum zones (OMZs), large regions of very low oxygen. Unlike coastal “dead zones” where oxygen levels can suddenly plummet and kill marine life not acclimated to the conditions, zooplankton in OMZs are specially adapted to live where other organisms – especially predators – cannot.

Source: Whats up newp

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Interpreting Mosaics of Ocean Biogeochemistry

"Sea level rise, heat transport, ocean acidification, these ocean processes, well known in the public sphere, play out on a regional to global scale. But less well known are more localized processes that bring some ecological niches together, keep others separated, and help sustain ocean life by circulating nutrients.

Physical processes in the ocean that take place over intermediate and small scales of space and time play a key role in vertical seawater exchange. They also have significant effects on chemical, biological, and ecological processes in the upper ocean. [...]"

Source: EOS

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The case of the missing oxygen: Foster Scholar Kate Hewett studies hypoxia in national marine sanctuaries

"Not every marine scientist has the same origin story. Some are instantly enthralled by the ocean and its many inhabitants at a ripe young age. For others, a lightbulb goes off while sitting in an undergraduate class. Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar Kate Hewett grew up on the islands of Micronesia, but did not consider a career in marine sciences until graduate school. While working as an environmental engineer in Boston, Massachusetts, she decided to go back to school to develop a deeper understanding of the environmental problems she encountered at work. In her classes, the complicated physics associated with coastal zones pulled at Hewett’s engineering heartstrings. [...]"

Source: NOAA

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Tool to Capture Marine Biological Activity Gets Coastal Upgrade

"Upwelling hinders an efficient method to estimate a key measure of biological productivity in coastal waters, but accounting for surface temperatures could boost accuracy.

 

Although coastal waters make up only about 10% of the surface area of the ocean, they harbor most of its life. Measuring biological activity in these regions can reveal their impact on fisheries, low-oxygen dead zones, and the global carbon cycle, but coastal zones remain understudied. Now new research by Teeter et al. suggests how to improve the accuracy of a method that uses oxygen and argon measurements to quickly estimate marine biological activity. [...]"

Source: EOS

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Why Is the Gulf of Maine Warming Faster Than 99% of the Ocean?

"The Gulf of Maine’s location at the meeting point of two major currents, as well as its shallow depth and shape, makes it especially susceptible to warming.


Late last month, four endangered sea turtles washed ashore in northern Cape Cod, marking an early onset to what has now become a yearly event: the sea turtle stranding season. These turtles—in last month’s case, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles—venture into the Gulf of Maine during warm months, but they can become hypothermic and slow moving when colder winter waters abruptly arrive, making it hard to escape. “They are enjoying the warm water, and then all of a sudden the cold comes, and they can’t get out fast enough,” said Andrew Pershing, an oceanographer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland, Maine. [...]"

Source: eos.org

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What could cause the Mississippi Bight to become hypoxic?

"Coastal regions with low dissolved oxygen (known as hypoxia) can lead to poor water quality and harm regional fisheries. These areas of low dissolved oxygen are expanding and expected to continue growing in coming years due to human impacts on the environment.

A recent article published in Continental Shelf Research explores aspects of the environmental conditions that can potentially lead to hypoxia in the Mississippi Bight region of the northern Gulf of Mexico. This area extends from Apalachicola in Florida to the Mississippi River Delta. [...]"

Source:  EurekAlert!

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[German] Dem Ozean geht die Luft aus

"In den tropischen und subtropischen Meeren existieren in mittleren Tiefen riesige sauerstoffarme Zonen. Im Zuge des Klimawandels dehnen sie sich immer stärker aus. Auch in Küstenregionen entstehen durch Stickstoffbelastung aus der Landwirtschaft lebensfeindliche Zonen ohne Sauerstoff – mit verheerenden Folgen für das marine Ökosystem [...]"

Source: Spektrum.de

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