Extreme Temperature Diary-January 14, 2018/ Topic: Oxygen Dead Zones

Sunday January 14th… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing post will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. I’ll refer to extreme temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials)😊. Here is today’s climate change related topic:

Oxygen Dead Zones

Not many people know that besides bleaching coral, global warming decreases oxygen levels in the planet’s oceans enlarging dead zones. New research into how global warming plays a role with dead or “sick” zones was published in a new paper via Science. I’m going to quote and make some references from the following press release:

https://serc.si.edu/media/press-release/ocean-losing-its-breath-heres-global-scope

Last week we delved into ocean acidification: http://www.guyonclimate.com/2018/01/07/extreme-temperature-diary-january-7-8-2018/

Evidently carbon pollution is a three headed monster attacking the Earth’s oceans. 1) The extra heat itself bleaches corals disturbing ecosystems. 2) The uptake of CO2 causes acidification also harming corals and the shells of mollusks. 3) Oxygen levels are lowered snuffing out or greatly diminishing sea life.

I do want to emphasize this, as well: “In areas traditionally called “dead zones,” like those in Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, oxygen plummets to levels so low many animals suffocate and die. As fish avoid these zones, their habitats shrink and they become more vulnerable to predators or fishing. But the problem goes far beyond “dead zones,” the authors point out. Even smaller oxygen declines can stunt growth in animals, hinder reproduction and lead to disease or even death. Low oxygen also can trigger the release of dangerous chemicals such as nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas up to 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, and toxic hydrogen sulfide.”

From the article: “Climate change is the key culprit in the open ocean. Warming surface waters make it harder for oxygen to reach the ocean interior. Furthermore, as the ocean as a whole gets warmer, it holds less oxygen. In coastal waters, excess nutrient pollution from land creates algal blooms, which drain oxygen as they die and decompose. In an unfortunate twist, animals also need more oxygen in warmer waters, even as it is disappearing.”

Low-oxygen zones are spreading around the globe. Red dots mark places on the coast where oxygen has plummeted to 2 milligrams per liter or less, and blue areas mark zones with the same low-oxygen levels in the open ocean. (Credit: GO2NE working group. Data from World Ocean Atlas 2013 and provided by R. J. Diaz)

So how do we stop this three headed monster? Here is the article’s three step solution:

  • Address the causes: nutrient pollution and climate change. While neither issue is simple or easy, the steps needed to win can benefit people as well as the environment. Better septic systems and sanitation can protect human health and keep pollution out of the water. Cutting fossil fuel emissions not only cuts greenhouse gases and fights climate change, but also slashes dangerous air pollutants like mercury.
  • Protect vulnerable marine life. With some low oxygen unavoidable, it is crucial to protect at-risk fisheries from further stress. According to the GO2NE team, this could mean creating marine protected areas or no-catch zones in areas animals use to escape low oxygen, or switching to fish that are not as threatened by falling oxygen levels.
  • Improve low-oxygen tracking worldwide. Scientists have a decent grasp of how much oxygen the ocean could lose in the future, but they do not know exactly where those low-oxygen zones will be. Enhanced monitoring, especially in developing countries, and numerical models will help pinpoint which places are most at risk and determine the most effective solutions.

Now all reading have more reasons to go to green energy, getting away from carbon based systems ASAP.

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Dear Diary. Uh Oh! We have an ET alert today from Daniel Swain. Some sneaky record warmth has made an appearance along the West Coast:

I’ll add more relevant “ET” information should it cross my radar.

The Climate Guy

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