Temperature-dependent hypoxia explains biogeography and severity of end-Permian marine mass extinction
"Climate change triggered by volcanic greenhouse gases is hypothesized to have caused the largest mass extinction in Earth’s history at the end of the Permian Period (~252 million years ago). Geochemical evidence provides strong support for rapid global warming and accompanying ocean oxygen (O2) loss, but a quantitative link among climate, species’ traits, and extinction is lacking. To test whether warming and O2 loss can mechanistically account for the marine mass extinction, we combined climate model simulations with an established ecophysiological framework to predict the biogeographic patterns and severity of extinction. Those predictions were confirmed by a spatially explicit analysis of the marine fossil record. [...]"
Authors: Justin L. Penn
Distribution of Meiofauna in Bathyal Sediments Influenced by the Oxygen Minimum Zone Off Costa Rica
"Ocean deoxygenation has become a topic of increasing concern because of its potential impacts on marine ecosystems, including oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) expansion and subsequent benthic effects. We investigated the influence of oxygen concentration and organic matter (OM) availability on metazoan meiofauna within and below an OMZ in bathyal sediments off Costa Rica, testing the hypothesis that oxygen and OM levels are reflected in meiofaunal community structures and distribution. Mean total densities in our sampling cores (400–1800 m water depth) were highest with 3688 ind. 10 cm−2 at the OMZ core at 400 m water depth, decreasing rapidly downslope. [...]"
Source: Frontiers in Marine Science
Authors: Carlos Neira et al.
Finding forced trends in oceanic oxygen
"Anthropogenically forced trends in oceanic dissolved oxygen are evaluated in Earth system models in the context of natural variability. A large ensemble of a single Earth system model is used to clearly identify the forced component of change in interior oxygen distributions and to evaluate the magnitude of this signal relative to noise generated by internal climate variability. The time of emergence of forced trends is quantified on the basis of anomalies in oxygen concentrations and trends. [...]"
Source: Global Biogeochemical Cycles
Authors: Matthew C. Long, Curtis Deutsch and Taka Ito
Pacific Decadal Oscillation and recent oxygen decline in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean
"The impact of the positive and negative phases of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) on the extension of the poorly oxygenated regions of the eastern Pacific Ocean was assessed using a coupled ocean circulation–biogeochemical model. We show that during a “typical” PDO-positive phase the volume of the suboxic regions expands by 7 % over 50 years due to a slowdown of the large-scale circulation related to the decrease in the intensity of the trade winds. Changes in oxygen levels are mostly controlled by advective processes between 10∘ N and 10∘ S, whereas diffusive processes are dominant poleward of 10∘: in a “typical” PDO-positive phase the sluggish equatorial current system provides less oxygen to the eastern equatorial part of the basin while the oxygen transport by diffusive processes significantly decreases south of 10∘ S. [...]"
Authors: Olaf Duteil, Andreas Oschlies, and Claus W. Böning
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. [...]"
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. [...]"
Thallium isotopes reveal protracted anoxia during the Toarcian (Early Jurassic) associated with volcanism, carbon burial, and mass extinction
"For this study, we generated thallium (Tl) isotope records from two anoxic basins to track the earliest changes in global bottom water oxygen contents over the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event (T-OAE; ∼183 Ma) of the Early Jurassic. The T-OAE, like other Mesozoic OAEs, has been interpreted as an expansion of marine oxygen depletion based on indirect methods such as organic-rich facies, carbon isotope excursions, and biological turnover. Our Tl isotope data, however, reveal explicit evidence for earlier global marine deoxygenation of ocean water, some 600 ka before the classically defined T-OAE. "
Authors: Theodore R. Them et al.
Controls on redox-sensitive trace metals in the Mauritanian oxygen minimum zone
"The availability of the micronutrient iron (Fe) in surface waters determines primary production, N2 fixation and microbial community structure in large parts of the world's ocean, and thus plays an important role in ocean carbon and nitrogen cycles. Eastern boundary upwelling systems and the connected oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) are typically associated with elevated concentrations of redox-sensitive trace metals (e.g. Fe, manganese (Mn) and cobalt (Co)), with shelf sediments typically forming a key source. Over the last five decades, an expansion and intensification of OMZs has been observed and this trend is likely to proceed. [...]"
Authors: Insa Rapp et al.
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. [...]"
Volcanic eruptions once caused mass extinctions in the oceans – could climate change do the same?
This process has the potential to disrupt marine food chains. We already know that large hypoxic, or low-oxygen, zones can be deadly. If hypoxia expands in both size and duration, it is possible to cause widespread extinction of marine life, which has happened previously in Earth’s history. [...]"