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Dramatic expansion of dead zones in the oceans
Date:1/25/2009

leading to anoxia are thought to be prime candidates for explaining some of the large extinction events in Earth history including the largest such event at the end of the Permian 250 million years ago.

Series of changes

Furthermore, as suboxic zones expand, essential nutrients are stripped from the ocean by the process of denitrification. This in turn would shift biological production in the lighted surface layers of the ocean toward plankton species that are able to fix free dissolved nitrogen. This would then lead to large, unpredictable changes in ocean ecosystem structure and productivity, on top of other large unpredictable changes to be expected from ocean acidification, the other great oceanic consequence of high atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations from fossil fuel burning.

Professor Shaffer warns that as a result, "the future of the ocean as a large food reserve would be more uncertain. Reduced fossil fuel emissions are needed over the next few generations to limit ongoing ocean oxygen depletion and acidification and their long-term adverse effects".


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Contact: Gertie Skaarup
skaarup@nbi.dk
453-532-5320
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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