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Oceans, Where Life Started, Are Dying – Part I

Posted by feww on March 14, 2008

WILD FACTS SERIES – Our Oceans Are Now Dying!

Ocean “deserts” are expanding much faster than predicted, according to a new study by the University of Hawaii and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA.

It is believed that the ocean “desertification,” which is caused by the warming of sea surface waters, may result in the population decline of many fish species.

globe2s.jpg
Black areas in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are the least productive. (Credit NOAA)

“Between 1998 and 2007, these expanses of saltwater with low surface plant life in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans grew by 15 percent or 6.6 million square kilometers, according to the study which appears in Geophysical Research Letters. The expansion is occurring at the same time that sea surface temperatures are warming about one percent or .02 to .04 degrees Celsius a year. The warming increases stratification of the ocean waters, preventing deep ocean nutrients from rising to the surface and creating plantlife.”

The evidence of this expansion comes from data collected by a sensor aboard NASA’s orbiting SeaStar spacecraft. The Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor, called SeaWiFS, is a unique tool that maps ocean biological productivity around the globe. This visual sensor reads reflective color to measure the density of chlorophyll in phytoplankton, the microscopic plants that are the base of the marine food web.”

These barren areas are found in roughly 20 percent of the world’s oceans and are within subtropical gyres—the swirling expanses of water on either side of the equator.”

globe1-s2.jpg
Dark blue areas in this figure of the global distribution of chlorophyll
are the areas with the least surface chlorophyll. (Credit NASA)

As for the remaining 80 percent area of world’s oceans …

See Oceans, Where Life Started, Are Dying – Part II


References:

  • Landry, C.A., S. Manning, and A.O. Cheek. 2004. Hypoxia suppresses reproduction in Gulf killifish, Fundulus grandis. e.hormone 2004 conference. Oct. 27-30. New Orleans.
  • Murphy, C. . . . P. Thomas, et al. 2004. Modeling the effects of multiple anthropogenic and environmental stressors on Atlantic croaker populations using nested simulation models and laboratory data. Fourth SETAC World Congress, 25th Annual Meeting in North America. Nov. 14-18. Portland, Ore.
  • Johanning, K., et al. 2004. Assessment of molecular interaction between low oxygen and estrogen in fish cell culture. Fourth SETAC World Congress, 25th Annual Meeting in North America. Nov. 14-18. Portland, Ore.
  • Nutrients in the Nation’s Waters–Too Much of a Good Thing? U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1136.

Related Links:

See Also:  Our Dying Oceans (Parts II,III, and IV)

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