Scientists Build New Atlas of Ocean’s Oxygen-Starved Waters: Track & Predict the Ocean’s Response to Climate Change
Oxygen deficient zone intensity across the eastern Pacific Ocean, where copper colors represent the locations of consistently lowest oxygen concentrations and deep teal indicates regions without sufficiently low dissolved oxygen. Credit: Jarek Kwiecinski and Andrew Babbin. The 3D maps may help researchers track and predict the ocean’s response to climate change.
Life is teeming nearly everywhere in the oceans, except in certain pockets where oxygen naturally plummets and waters become unlivable for most aerobic organisms. These desolate pools are “oxygen-deficient zones,” or ODZs. And though they make up less than 1 percent of the ocean’s total volume, they are a significant source of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas. Their boundaries can also limit the extent of fisheries and marine ecosystems.
Now MIT scientists have generated the most detailed, three-dimensional “atlas” of the largest ODZs in the world. The new atlas provides high-resolution maps of the two major, oxygen-starved bodies of water in the tropical Pacific. These maps reveal the volume, extent, and varying depths of each ODZ, along with fine-scale features, such as ribbons of oxygenated water that intrude into otherwise depleted zones.
The team used a new method to process over 40 years’ worth of ocean data, comprising nearly […]