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Earth is fighting to stay alive. Mass dieoffs, triggered by anthropogenic assault and fallout of planetary defense systems offsetting the impact, could begin anytime!

Posts Tagged ‘oceans’

5.25 trillion plastic particles currently floating in world’s oceans

Posted by feww on March 15, 2017

Plastic threat increasing in world’s oceans

Researchers estimate at least 5.25 trillion plastic particles weighing 268,940 tons are currently floating in world’s oceans (December 2014).

Model results for the total particle count and weight of plastic floating in the world’s oceans.

“Our estimates suggest that the two Northern Hemisphere ocean regions contain 55.6% of particles and 56.8% of plastic mass compared to the Southern Hemisphere, with the North Pacific containing 37.9% and 35.8% by particle count and mass, respectively. In the Southern Hemisphere the Indian Ocean appears to have a greater particle count and weight than the South Atlantic and South Pacific oceans combined.”

‘Extraordinary’ levels of pollutants found in 10km deep Mariana trench, in the Pacific Ocean, shows nowhere is safe from human impact, say researches.

“Small crustaceans that live in the pitch-black waters of the trench, captured by a robotic submarine, were contaminated with 50 times more toxic chemicals than crabs that survive in heavily polluted rivers in China,” said a report citing researchers.

Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea
http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0111913

Annual global production of plastics has increased from 5 million tons in the 1950s to well over 230 million tons today. However, because of their disposable nature substantial quantities of plastic items have been discarded to the environment and so the abundance of microplastic is likely to increase over the next few decade.

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Posted in News Alert | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

FIRE-EARTH Presentation: Condemned Oceans

Posted by feww on December 13, 2016

  • Affiliates
  • CJ Members
  • EAC
  • OC Teams

Things You Probably Didn’t Know about the Condemned Oceans

  1. The Presentation is available from FIRE-EARTH PULSARS.
  2. Affiliates may be provided with the details at Members’ discretion.

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Arctic sea ice has thinned dramatically

Posted by feww on July 8, 2009

Arctic sea ice thinned dramatically between the winters of 2004 and 2008—NASA

Analysis of data from a NASA Earth-orbiting spacecraft shows that “Arctic sea ice thinned dramatically between the winters of 2004 and 2008, with thin seasonal ice replacing thick older ice as the dominant type for the first time on record.”  The latest discovery “provide further evidence for the rapid, ongoing transformation of the Arctic’s ice cover.”

324864main_kwokfig1_small
ICESat measures the distances to the top of the snow cover and to the sea surface. The difference between the two quantities gives the total “freeboard” measurement; that is, the amount of ice above the water line relative to the local sea level. Credit: Courtesy of Norbert Untersteiner, University of Washington

NASA says their and the University of Washington in Seattle researchers carried out “the most comprehensive survey to date using observations from NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite, known as ICESat,” to determine “the first basin-wide estimate of the thickness and volume of the Arctic Ocean’s ice cover.”  Their research team, led by Ron Kwok of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., published its findings on July 7 in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans.

365867main_earth1-20090707-small
This schematic shows the geometric relationship between freeboard (the amount of ice above the water line), snow depth, and ice thickness. Buoyancy causes a fraction (about 10 percent) of sea ice to stick out above the sea surface. By knowing the density of the ice and applying “Archimedes’ Principle” — an object immersed in a fluid is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object — the total thickness of the ice can be calculated. Credit: Ron Kwok, NASA/JPL

365869main_earth2-20090707-small
ICESat measurements of winter multi-year ice cover in the Arctic Ocean between 2004 and 2008, along with the corresponding downward trend in overall winter sea ice volume, and switch in dominant ice type from multi-year ice to first-year ice. Credit: Ron Kwok, NASA/JPL

365871main_earth3-20090707-small
ICESat measurements of winter multi-year ice cover in the Arctic Ocean between 2004 and 2008, along with the corresponding downward trend in overall winter sea ice volume, and switch in dominant ice type from multi-year ice to first-year ice. Credit: Ron Kwok, NASA/JPL


326199main_2003winter_small

Data visualization of Arctic sea ice thickness, as measured by ICESat, shows the decline of the thickest ice (white, 4 to 5 meters thick) and increase in thinner ice (deep blue, 0 to 1 meter) from 2003 to 2008. Credit: NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio.

326207main_2008winter_small

326208main_seaicediscretecolorbarData visualization of ice thickness, as measured by ICESat, shows the yearly growth (winter) and retreat (fall) of ice in the Arctic Ocean. Credit: NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio


More Images Available at Source

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Posted in Archimedes’ Principle, arctic ocean, freeboard ice, winter sea ice | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

STOP Killing Our Oceans!

Posted by feww on March 11, 2009

Thousands of marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds and others, are choked or poisoned each year by eating trash discarded in the ocean… —Report

In a week that another tourist cruise ship on its way to destroy what is left of the fragile Antarctic ecosystems breaks down, giving the thousands of passengers time to reflect on their destructive behavior,  a report by U.S.-based Ocean Conservancy provides a “global snapshot of marine debris,” a record of garbage collected by about 400,000 volunteers in 104 countries and locations  in a single day in September 2008.

Tourism: A Major Destructive Force

aurora-breaks-down
P&O Aurora (in the background) passenger Reg Hirst and his wife (not picture) from Yorkshire, England, were among the 2,000 tourists whose trip around New Zealand was disrupted by a broken propeller on the ship. They had to stay in Auckland for a few nights (not as nice as Sydney, they said) but that’s no problem because there’s lots more to do on the way to San Francisco. Photo by JOHN SELKIRK/Dominion Post. Image may be subject to copyright.

The MV Aurora is owned and operated by P&O Cruises (now a part of Carnival Corporation). The ship has a Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT) of 76,152 tonnes and is 270 m long. It can carry about 2,000 passengers and a crew of about 900.  Aurora produces an estimated 6,500 tons of garbage and human waste and 100,000,000 liters of graywater each year. Aurora’s 4 engines produce about 60,000 kW of power enough to provide electricity for about  7,000 households. The carbon footprint for Aurora (full operation mode inclusive of passenger activities) is an estimated 500,000 tons of CO2 per year. In February alone, a staggering 25  cruise ships visited Auckland, New Zealand.

The highlights of the Ocean Conservancy report, a Rising Tide of Ocean Debris, is listed below.

1.  A tidal wave of ocean debris is a major pollution problem of the 21st century.

2.  Certain categories of debris show up more often in certain places.

3.  Of the 43 items tracked during the Cleanup, the top three items of trash found in 2008 were cigarette butts, plastic bags, and food wrappers/containers.

4. Marine debris kills. Every year, thousands of marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, and other animals are sickened, injured, or killed because of trash in the ocean. Animals choke or become poisoned when they eat trash, and drown when they become entangled in bags, ropes, and old fishing gear.

5.  Marine debris degrades ocean health and compromises its ability to adapt [sic] to climate change.

Full report is available for download at A Rising Tide of Ocean Debris and

For more information, visit their site at Ocean Conservency: Start a Sea Change.

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Posted in dead zones, Marine debris, Marine Mammals, plastics, polluted oceans | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Oceans, Where Life Started, Are Dying – Part V

Posted by feww on November 21, 2008

Wild Facts Series: Weapons Horror Under Water

Our oceans: Convenient dump sites for chemical weapons

[And a number of nuclear weapons are lying down there, too!]

Our oceans have long been used as a convenient weapons dump for the military.  Hundreds of thousands of tons of surplus chemical weapons including large quantities of arsenic, cyanide, mustard gas, sarin gas and VX nerve gas are dumped off the US Atlantic coast as well as off other countries.

Dumping chemical weapons –  Millions of pounds of mustard gas canisters were jettisoned into the Atlantic Ocean off New Jersey (1964) and elsewhere. (Photo: The U.S. Army)

The U.S. Army has admitted to dumping 30 million kg (64 million pounds) of chemical weapons alone into U.S. waters between World War II and early 1970s. But that’s only tip of the iceberg because the Army also says years of record have gone missing.

These weapons of mass destruction virtually ring the country, concealed off at least 11 states – six on the East Coast, two on the Gulf Coast, California, Hawaii and Alaska. Few, if any, state officials have been informed of their existence.

known dumpsites

Some of chemical weapons dump sites off the US  Atlantic coast. Image Credit: Daily Press. Image may be subject to copyright.

Millions of mustard gas-filled ammunition’s were dumped off the United States coasts, and other countries.

Dead Dolphins – Hundreds of dolphins were washed ashore in Virginia and New Jersey shorelines in 1987 with burns similar to mustard gas exposure. A marine-mammal specialist believes chemical weapons dumped in the ocean by the US Army killed them. (Photo courtesy of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in New Jersey). Source

Chemical Weapons Disposal By Scuttling – The SS William Ralston filled with more than 300,000 mustard gas bombs and 1,500 1-ton canisters of Lewsite is sunk in the Pacific Ocean off San Fransico in 1958. (Photo: The U.S. Army)

Here’s a brief chronology:

1957:  48 tons of lewisite were dumped off the coast of New Jersey.

1967 –  4,577 tons of mustard agent and 7,380 M55 sarin were dumped.

1968 – 38 one-ton containers of sarin gas and VX nerve gas were dumped,

1968 – 1,460 vaults of M55 sarin gas and VX rockets and 120 drums of arsenic and cyanide canisters.

Barge loaded with mustard gas canisters The canisters were later dumped somewhere in the Atlantic ocean in 1964. (Photo: The U.S. Army)

For more photos click here!

The US military secretly dumped chemical weapons in the oceans for decades, from 1944 to 1970.

Hundreds of people have been seriously injured as some of the weapons have washed up on shore or ended up in fishermen’s nets.

“Overseas, fishermen have been hurt by chemical weapons the United States secretly sank, from the Riviera to Australia.” John Bull of Daily Press reported.

“It’s a disaster looming – a time bomb,” said Dr. Gert Harigel, a physicist, who’s a member of the Geneva International Peace Research Institute. “The scientific community knows very little about it. It scares me a lot.”

The US military created at least 30 chemical weapon dump sites and secretly dumped surplus chemical weapons from the end of World War II until 1970, but has scant record of where some of those dump sites were, or what exactly they dumped there. The extremely volatile dangerous weapons remain corroding in the dump sites.

Offshore seismic activity can accelerate the leakage and failure rate of chemical weapons, according to Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action.

“Our ocean floor is littered with chemical weapons. We’re talking about significant sonar pulses, and we don’t know what they would do during the testing stage … All of those canisters have been rotting away, and poking around could have catastrophic results on releasing 64 million pounds of chemical weapons.” Zipf said.

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A bomb disposal expert from Dover Air Force Base, Del., was burned in 2004 by a mustard gas shell found in a driveway. (Photo: The U.S. Army).

The military, it was revealed, dumped large piles of chemical weapons in the ocean off Hawaii between 1944 and 1946. At least 2,000 conventional munitions lay on the seabed less than 1km off Waianae, Oahu, in a region named Ordnance Reef.

U.S.-made deadly weapons were dumped off the coasts of at least 11 other countries including Australia, China, Denmark, France, India, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, the Philippines, the former Soviet Union and unidentified “Latin American countries.”

A treaty which was also signed by the United States in 1975 prohibits dumping of chemical munitions in the ocean, however, it does not cover the dump sites created prior to the treaty date. Further, as the weapons dump sites are considered to be in international waters the U.S. government bears no legal responsibility to remove them, according to Peter Kaiser, a spokesperson for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, at The Hague, Netherlands.

Dumps Created by Other countries

After World War II, the Canadian navy dumped thousands of tons of ammunition and explosives into the waters, the report stated.

In 1973, nearly 100 fishermen were injured by chemical warfare agents dumped by either U.S. occupation forces or the Japanese military toward the end of World War II.

In 2003 the Australians discovered that their military had dumped more than 30 million kg of chemical weapons off the coast of Brisbane.

The Canadians, having discovered three major offshore chemical weapons dump sites, believe there may be as many as 1,200 other sites off Nova Scotia and Vancouver Island in British Columbia, north of Washington state, created both the Canadian and the U.S. military.

Nuclear Weapons Lost in the Water

And to top it all, the US military has lost 11 nuclear bombs at sea.

continued …

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Posted in cyanide, lewisite, Lost Nukes, sarin gas, VX nerve gas | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Southern Ocean Carbon Sink

Posted by feww on July 2, 2008

From NASA’s Earth Observatory:

Southern Ocean Carbon Sink

If you drove to work or school this morning or used electricity to power the computer on which you’re looking at this image, chances are you released carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, people released about 7.8 billion tons (7.8 gigatons) of carbon into the atmosphere in 2005 by burning fossil fuels and making cement, and that number grows every year. What happens to all of the carbon dioxide that people release into the atmosphere? About half stays in the atmosphere, where it warms Earth, and the other half is absorbed by growing plants on land and by the ocean.

As people have put more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the ocean has responded by soaking up more carbon dioxide—a trend scientists expected to continue for many years. But in 2007, a team of scientists reported in the journal Science that between 1981 and 2004 carbon dioxide concentrations in the Southern Ocean didn’t change at all, even though global atmospheric levels continued to rise. This graph shows the changes scientists expected to see (blue line) compared to their estimate of actual carbon dioxide absorption (red line). The results suggested that the Southern Ocean was no longer keeping pace with human carbon dioxide emissions.

Why has the Southern Ocean started to lag behind human emissions? The answer, believes Corinne Le Quéré, is in the wind. An ocean scientist at the University of East Anglia, Le Quéré led the study that discovered the Southern Ocean’s change of pace. Le Quéré modeled the mechanisms that influence how the ocean takes up carbon and found that winds increased between 1981 and 2004. Winds stirred the ocean and enhanced the upwelling of deep, carbon-rich water. The ocean releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in areas where deep water comes to the surface, so increased upwelling allowed the ocean to vent more carbon dioxide. This increased venting made it look like the Southern Ocean was no longer taking up carbon dioxide as quickly as people were pumping it into the atmosphere.

Full article and references are available at: Southern Ocean Carbon Sink

Related Links:

  • Human carbon emissions make oceans corrosive : ‘Carbon dioxide spewed by human activities has made ocean water so acidic that it is eating away at the shells and skeletons of starfish, coral, clams and other sea creatures …’

Posted in energy, environment, food, Global Warming, health, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Eight Steps that Help Kill More of Our Fish

Posted by feww on May 7, 2008

How Your Car’s Exhaust Emissions Helps Create Dead Zones and Kill Our Fish

Step One: You fill up the tank (gasoline is a processed fossil fuel product).


REUTERS/Sergio Moraes (Image may be subject to copyright!)

Step Two: As you drive around, your car burns the fossil fuel and produces greenhouse gases and other harmful pollutants, which are spewed out through the exhaust pipe.


Houston Evacuation – Hurricane Rita

Step three: Sunlight interacts with greenhouse gases emitted from your car, producing ground-level ozone.


Only about 12.6 percent of the gas your car consumes is used for driving!


Step Four: High ozone levels damage crops such as corn, wheat, and soybeans, reducing growth rates and crop yields, as well as making the crops less resistant to insects and pests. (In 1995, ground-level ozone caused $2.7 billion in crop damage nationwide, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.) Current estimates for the crop damages caused by ground-level ozone stand at about $3 billion each year in the US alone.

ozone-plant-damage
(L) Ozone-damaged plant; (R) normal plant. Photo courtesy of Gene Daniels/U.S. EPA.

Step Five: To increase growth rates, boost crop yields and fight pests, farmer use increasingly larger amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.


Applying Chemical Fertilizers. Photo AVRCD. (Image may be subject to copyright!)

Step Six: Nutrient-rich chemical runoffs (pollution) from agricultural fields are washed by rain into streams, storm sewers and rivers and end up into our oceans, seas and other water bodies.


Summer rains wash nutrients, dissolved organic matter and sediment out of the mouths of rivers, into the sea, sparking large phytoplankton blooms. South America presents two excellent examples of river outlets where phytoplankton tends to thrive. Along the northern part of the continent the mouth of the Orinoco River opens into the Caribbean. Along the Eastern side of South America, the mighty Amazon exits its thousand mile journey. (Text NASA)

Step Seven: Dead Zones that cover tens of thousands of square kilometers of waterways are created by pollution-fed algae, which deprive fish and other marine life of oxygen.


Gulf of Mexico: sediment filled water meets the ocean.

Step Eight: Deprived of oxygen, fish and other marine life die.


Dead fish are seen on a basket of a fish farm off a coast of Menidi village in the Amvrakikos Gulf, some 350Km northeast of Athens February 28, 2008. Local marine biologist Vangelis Dimitriou said that up to 800 tonnes of fish including sea bass and sea bream died from a lack of oxygen [hypoxia], after swimming through a large pocket of water where the temperatures suddenly dropped at a drastic rate. REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis (GREECE). Image may be subject to copyright. See FEWW Fair Use Notice!

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

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Posted in Climate Change, energy, environment, food, health, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Freshening of deep Antarctic water could prove catasterophic

Posted by feww on April 18, 2008

Scientists have detected changes in salinity of the antarctic water that could drmatically change the ocean currents and the world’s climate.

They found that salty, dense water that sinks near the edge of Antarctica to the bottom of the ocean about 5 km (3 miles) down is becoming fresher and more buoyant.

The Antarctic “bottom water” is responsible for the great ocean conveyor belt, a system of currents that move throughout the Southern, Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans distributing warm water around the globe.

The edge of the remaining part of an ice shelf in the Weddell Sea in Antarctica photo taken on March 4, 2008. REUTERS/Mariano Caravaca/Handout

“The main reason we’re paying attention to this is because it is one of the switches in the climate system and we need to know if we are about to flip that switch or not,” said Rintoul of Australia’s research arm the CSIRO.

“If that freshening trend continues for long enough, eventually the water near Antarctica would be too light, too buoyant to sink and that limb of the global-scale circulation would shut down,” he said earlier today.

the great ocean conveyor belt delivers warm water into the north Atlantic, making Europe warmer than it would otherwise be. The slowing down or stopping of these currents could result in catastrophic changes in the world’s climate.

“We don’t see any evidence yet that the amount of bottom water that’s sinking has declined. But by becoming fresher and less dense it’s moving in the direction of an ultimate shutdown.” Report


The Thermohaline Circulation (THC)

The thermohaline circulation (THC) is the global density-driven circulation of the oceans. Derivation is from thermo- for heat and -haline for salt, which together determine the density of sea water. Wind-driven surface currents (such as the , ) head polewards from the equatorial Atlantic Ocean, cooling all the while and eventually sinking at high latitudes (forming North Atlantic Deep Water). This dense water then flows into the ocean basins. While the bulk of it upwells in the Southern Ocean, the oldest waters (with a transit time of around 1600 years) upwell in the North Pacific (Primeau, 2005). Extensive mixing therefore takes place between the ocean basins, reducing differences between them and making the Earth’s ocean a global system. On their journey, the water masses transport both energy (in the form of heat) and matter (solids, dissolved substances and gases) around the globe. As such, the state of the circulation has a large impact on the climate of the Earth.

The thermohaline circulation is sometimes called the ocean conveyor belt, the great ocean conveyer, the global conveyor belt, or, most commonly, the meridional overturning circulation (often abbreviated as MOC). (Source: wikipedia)

Posted in energy, environment, government, politics, Warming | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Floating Toxic Garbage Island

Posted by feww on April 10, 2008

WILD FACTS SERIES: North Pacific Gyre

A patch of garbage dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch floats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in North Pacific Gyre. Depending on the source, the size estimate of the patch varies from the size of Texas to twice as large as the continental United States.

  • About 46,000 pieces of plastic float on each square mile of sea (Source: telegraph.co.uk)
  • Researcher Dr Marcus Eriksen believes the Great Pacific Garbage Patch stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the coast of California, across the Northern Pacific to near the coast of Japan.
  • According to the Independent newspaper 100 million tons of plastic garbage float in the North Pacific Gyre.


The North Pacific Gyre (top, center)is one of five major oceanic gyres. (Image Credit: NOAA)

Following are links to a series of short videos by VBS.TV.


Marine debris on the Hawaiian coast (Image Credit: NOAA)

Related Links:

An Interesting animation of how the garbage entering the ocean is caught by the gyre.

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Posted in Bisphenol A, california, Hawaii, infertility, Pacific Ocean, plastic bags, polyethylene, PVC, Water pollution | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Oceans, Where Life Started, Are Dying – Part II

Posted by feww on March 16, 2008

WILD FACTS SERIES – Lethal Marine Pollution

Major Problems: Fertilizer Runoff; Tourism; Coastal Developments; Marine Transportation; and Ocean Warming due to climate change

Pollution Load

About 80% of the pollution load in the oceans originates from land-based activities directly affecting up to 80 percent of the world’s coastal areas and threatening the well-being of up to 4.5 billion people who live within a 60km radius of the coast, according to the UNEP (about 2billion people live in coastal urban centers).

mega-cities
Of the world’s 23 mega-cities (those with over 2.5 million inhabitants),
16 are in the coastal belt and are growing at a rate of about one million
people per day. ~ UN (Image credit: NOAA)

The sources of water pollution include

  • Municipal and industrial wastes
  • Agricultural runoff
  • Atmospheric deposition


Creeping Dead Zone (Pub. Domain. Credit NASA)

Creeping Dead Zones

The hypoxic (low-oxygen) areas in the oceans are called dead zones. The 200 or so oxygen depleted regions in our oceans are normally caused by nutrients from runoff (chemical fertilizer, manure, sewage…). The increase in nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous in the water is called eutrophication, a process that promotes excessive growth and decay of weedy plants and that is likely to cause severe reductions in water quality. When the decaying organic matter produced by aquatic vegetation or phytoplankton (an algal bloom) sinks to the bottom it undergoes breakdown by bacteria (bacterial respiration), a process which consumes the dissolved oxygen in the water and produces carbon dioxide. Respiration kills zooplankton, fish, crabs, clams, shrimp, and all other species that swim in the water or dwell on the muddy bottom of the lakes, rivers, estuaries and other water bodies. The water becomes cloudy and turns to a shade of red, yellow, green, or brown.

The size of aquatic and marine dead zones varies from about 1 to 70,000 square kilometers.


A dense bloom of poisonous cyanobacteria in the Potomac River estuary
(Credit:NOAA)

Gulf of Mexico

The largest dead zone in the US coastal waters measures about 25,000 square kilometer in the Gulf of Mexico caused by high-nutrient runoff dumped by the Mississippi River whose vast drainage basin covers the Midwest, the center of U.S. agribusiness. Another dead zone off the coast of Texas was discovered in July 2007.

According to a USGS study most of nutrients (75 percent of nitrogen and phosphorus) come from just nine states (total of 31 states share the basin) in the Mississippi River Basin: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee. Some 12 percent of the pollution originates from urban sources.

  • Corn and soybean cultivation is responsible for the largest share of nitrogen runoff to the Gulf.
  • Animal manure (see also New Zealand and Australia) on pasture and rangelands contribute a total of 37 percent to phosphors pollution.
  • Crop cultivation is responsible for a total of 43 percent of phosphorus runoff.

Low oxygen levels in the waters of the Gulf Coast have affected the fish reproductive system causing “decreased size of reproductive organs, low egg counts and lack of spawning.” The nation’s largest and most productive fisheries are threatened as the result.

The Following excerpts are from Wikipedia: In a study of the Gulf killifish by the Southeastern Louisiana University done in three bays along the Gulf Coast, fish living in bays where the oxygen levels in the water dropped to 1 to 2 parts per million (ppm) for 3 or more hours per day were found to have smaller reproductive organs. The male gonads were 34% to 50% as large as males of similar size in bays where the oxygen levels were normal (6 to 8 ppm). Females were found to have ovaries that were half as large as those in normal oxygen levels. The number of eggs in females living in hypoxic waters were only one-seventh the number of eggs in fish living in normal oxygen levels. (Landry, et al., 2004)

Another study by the University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute was done on the Atlantic croaker fish in Pensacola Bay, Florida. The study was of year-old croakers that live in an estuary that has summer-long hypoxic conditions. During the study, none of the fish spawned at the expected time, or later. Examination of sample fish determined that they lacked mature eggs or sperm. (Murphy, et al., 2004)

Fish raised in laboratory created hypoxic conditions showed extremely low sex-hormone concentrations and increased elevation of activity in two genes triggered by the hypoxia-inductile factor (HIF) protein. Under hypoxic conditions, HIF pairs with another protein, ARNT. The two then bind to DNA in cells, activating genes in those cells.

Under normal oxygen conditions, ARNT combines with estrogen to activate genes. Hypoxic cells in a test tube didn’t react to estrogen placed in the tube. HIF appears to render ARNT unavailable to interact with estrogen, providing a mechanism by which hypoxic conditions alter reproduction in fish. (Johanning, et. al, 2004)

It might be expected that fish would flee this potential suffocation, but they are often quickly rendered unconscious and doomed. Slow moving bottom-dwelling creatures like clams, lobsters and oysters are unable to escape. All colonial animals are extinguished. The normal mineralization and recycling that occurs among benthic life-forms is stifled.

According to USGS Associate Director for Water, Dr. Robert Hirsch, the number of water quality monitoring stations along the Mississippi River Basin region has been decimated from 425 stations 15 years ago to just 32.


A combined sewer overflow runoff entering Fall Creek in Indianapolis, Indiana
(photo credit: Charles Crawford; courtesy USGS).

Agrofuel [biofuel] Crop Impact in The Gulf of Mexico

According to a computer model designed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of British Columbia, the exponentially increasing amounts of fertilizer needed to meet US production goals for biofuel production, especially the corn-ethanol, would increase the nitrogen loading from the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico by up to 19 percent, increasing the size of dead zones.

The Mississippi River is about 2,300 miles (3,705 kilometers) long, according to the US Geologic survey. The River Basin or Watershed drains 41% of land in United States, an area of about 1.8 million square miles. Thirty-one states and two Canadian provinces are included in the watershed. The Mississippi carries an average of 500,000 tons of sediment each day.

The US Pacific Coast

Dead zone in the US Pacific coast covers an area of about 3,000 square kilometers. Worsened by strong winds caused by climate change, the Pacific dead zone has reoccurred every summer since 2002. See Photos of research during hypoxic events off the Oregon Coast

ROW

Other countries and regions where other dead zones have been reported since the 1970s include

  • Chesapeake Bay (US)
  • strait called the Kattegat strait (Scandinavia)
  • The Baltic Sea (in multiple fishing grounds)
  • Northern Adriatic
  • And coastal waters of
  • South America
  • China
  • Japan
  • Throughout Southeast Australia
  • New Zealand (Both Australia and NZ are major sources of industrial agriculture as well as sheep and cattle factory farming)


A map of the world’s dead zones created by Dr. Robert Diaz of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). Diaz estimates that the number of dead zones will double within a decade. Source: NASA

Coming Soon:
Oil Pollution

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 I, II,III, and IV)

FEWW Fair Use Notice!

Posted in Climate Change, Coastal Developments, eco tourism, Fertilizer Runoff, Ocean Warming, Tourism, Water pollution | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »