Dead Zones

DEAD ZONES….Marine researchers appear to have figured out the cause of the massive low-oxygen “dead zones” that have reappeared off the coast of Oregon every summer since 2002:

“We couldn’t believe our eyes,” [Jane] Lubchenco said, recalling her initial impression of the carnage brought about by oxygen-starved waters. “It was so overwhelming and depressing. It appeared that everything that couldn’t swim or scuttle away had died.

Upon further study, Lubchenco and other marine ecologists at Oregon State University concluded that that the undersea plague appears to be a symptom of global warming. In a study released today in the journal Science, the researchers note how these low-oxygen waters have expanded north into Washington and crept south as far as the California state line. And, they appear to be as regular as the tides, a lethal cycle that has repeated itself every summer and fall since 2002.

“We seem to have crossed a tipping point,” Lubchenco said. “Low-oxygen zones off the Northwest coast appear to be the new normal.”

….If this theory holds up, it means that global warming and the build-up of heat-trapping gases are bringing about oceanic changes beyond those previously documented: a rise in sea level, more acidic ocean water and the bleaching of coral reefs.

Probably nothing to worry about, though. Just more marine biologist fearmongering. After all, there are probably benefits to massive oxygen-starved zones in the ocean, right? And malaria abatement in Africa is more important in any case. What’s more, none of this would be a problem in the first place if Al Gore would stop flying around in a private jet. Or something.

Move along. Nothing to see here.

UPDATE: Hey, it turns out there are benefits to massive oxygen-starved zones in the ocean. Well, one benefit, anyway. If you happen to be a giant squid. Details here.