Deepwater ‘Dead Zones’

May 3, 2015

dead_zone_graphicOvercast, gray and gloomy this early Sunday on California’s north coast — supposedly, sunshine maybe before mid-day, but if yesterday’s any kind of an example as we received only a little peek-a-boo sun late in the afternoon, we can expect these Gothic conditions to remain awhile.

So staying on the dark side of shit, more bad news for the biggest portion of our planet, the oceans, and a terrible discovery of an ominous malady usually found in coastal waters (via Popular Science):

In a paper published in Biogeosciences, researchers describe pockets of low-oxygenated water traveling across the Atlantic Ocean.
They found these so-called dead zones in 100-mile long eddies, giant whirlpool-like structures that form in the open ocean and that can spin for months at a time.

Mankind continues to shit in its own mess kit.

(Illustration found here).

Although “Dead Zone” gets the zombie-related headline, the scientific term for these un-natural phenomenal is “Hypoxic Zone,” happening not only in the oceans, but sometimes lakes and even rivers — the water doesn’t have enough oxygen to support marine life, so it be becomes “hypoxic” (lacking oxygen).
The cause is usually nitrogen and phosphorous from agricultural runoff, but all kinds of shit, sewage, vehicular and industrial emissions, contribute to these things — which kills all marine life that can’t re-locate.
The ‘zones’ were close to shore, and with just a quick glance at the illustration above, apparently found all over the world, especially in Europe and along the US eastern seaboard.

And now discovered out in ‘open ocean’ — more from Popular Science:

The dead zones found by the researchers, however, formed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, where there is quite a bit of water sloshing around.
So how did these low-oxygenated pockets get there?
Essentially, the swirling movement of the eddy creates a wall around a central core of water.
The water can’t escape, and quickly burns through its oxygen supply.
“The fast rotation of the eddies makes it very difficult to exchange oxygen across the boundary between the rotating current and the surrounding ocean. Moreover, the circulation creates a very shallow layer – of a few tens of meters – on top of the swirling water that supports intense plant growth,” says author Johannes Karstensen.
The plant layer functions like an algal bloom along the coast, eventually leading to lower levels of oxygen in the center of the eddy.

In some of the dead zones the researchers observed almost no oxygen in the samples of seawater they looked at.
The maximum concentration they observed was 0.3 milliliters of oxygen per liter of seawater.
Common knowledge in the research community before this study held that the minimum oxygen content in the waters of the North Atlantic was around 1 milliliter of dissolved oxygen per liter of seawater.

In similar circumstances close to home, Pacific coastal waters down in the Bay Area appear on the verge of being a “Dead Zone,” but not yet — from the Press Democrat a year or so ago:

Climate change is the likely cause of unprecedented mass of oxygen-poor water off the Sonoma Coast, a phenomenon that could harm the region’s prized Dungeness crab and other marine life.
Scientists at the Bodega Marine Laboratory, who were the first to detect the hypoxic (low-oxygen) waters, aren’t calling it a “dead zone” yet, despite the similarity to a lethal condition along the Oregon coast for the past 12 years and forecasts that it will occur worldwide with global warming.

Zoned for the non-living…

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