NASA has created new maps showing the grim reality of marine dead zones. These areas of deep water where oxygen levels are too low for marine life to survive have grown at a staggering pace since the middle of the 20th century.
The dead zones are created when fertilizer run off from crops makes it into the ocean, creating massive algae blooms. When the algae dies, it sinks to the bottom where microbes decompose the matter, which consumes oxygen and creates a suffocating environment for marine life.
NASA was able to located the areas where this was occurring by using satellites that detect high concentrations of particulate organic matter. Those high concentrations are a signal of extra fertile areas that lead to dead zones.
The dead zones are mainly located along the coasts of large population centers, with the east coast of the U.S. and the coasts of Northern Europe having the largest numbers of these zones.
Since the 1960's, the creation of dead zones has snowballed, with the total amount of area occupied by dead zones now equaling 152,000 square miles and 400 different ecosystems being affected.
via Yale e360
written by Heather, July 25, 2010
written by Warren Pollock, July 25, 2010
written by Fredrik, August 13, 2010
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