Friday, August 15, 2008

Over 400 dead zones around the world (Science)

The latest issue of Science features a new review of the world's marine dead zones. Scientists have now reported over 400 regions of the coastal ocean like the Gulf of Mexico dead zone where nutrient pollution fuels the depletion of oxygen from the bottom waters, threatening ecosystem function and marine species. Most of these "hypoxic" - less than 2 mL of oxygen per litre of water - and anoxic zones arose in the last few decades due to nitrogen fertilizer use and associated intensive agricultural activities, and to industrial pollution.

The map below shows the dead zone along with a measure of the human footprint on land. The dead zones have also been plotted on Google Maps.

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