The ocean dead zone is as bad as it looks. Being clueless about the scope and path of dead zones is even worse. Scientists at Michigan State University (MSU) have discovered a bird’s eye method for predicting where, when and for how long dead zones will remain across large coastal areas.
said Yingjie Li, who did the work while studying for his Ph.D. at MSU’s Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS). He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University. Dead zones – technically known as hypoxia – are bodies of water so degraded that aquatic life cannot survive due to low oxygen levels. It is mainly a problem in coastal areas where fertilizer runoff feeds on algal blooms, which then die, sink to the bottom of the water and decompose. This decay devours the oxygen dissolved in the water, suffocating living life, such as the fish and other organisms that make up the vibrant, living water.
Dead zones can be difficult to identify and track and are usually noticed by water samples. But as stated in remote environment sensing, Scientists have discovered a new way to use satellite views to understand what’s going on in the ocean depths. They used the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of the Mississippi River as an experimental site.
The group supplemented the data from the water samples in various ways using satellite imagery over time. In addition to predicting the size of hypoxic zones, the study provides additional information about where, when and how long hypoxic zones persist with greater detail and enables modeling of hypoxic zones in near real time.
Since 1995, at least 500 coastal dead zones have been reported near coasts covering a combined area larger than the UK, endangering fisheries, recreation and the public health of the seas. Climate change is likely to exacerbate hypoxia.
The group notes the need to start a global coastal observatory network to collect and share data to better understand, predict, and communicate changing coastlines. At the moment, this data is hard to come by. And the stakes are higher because fertilizer applied to a field can leach into a single section of a body of water miles away. The group notes that a telecoupling framework, which enables understanding of human and natural interactions near and far, would be useful for seeing the big picture of a problem.
“The damage to our coastal waters is a distance coupling problem that extends well beyond the dead zones – remote places that use excessive fertilizers to produce food and even remote places that require food. Thus, it is critical that we take a holistic view while using new methods to gain an understanding Real, said Jianguo “Jack” Liu, MSU Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability and Director of CSIS.
Besides, Dr. Lee and Liu write “Satellite Prediction of Coastal Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico.” Samuel Robinson and Lan Nguyen of the University of Calgary. The work was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Science and Policy Summer Research Fellowship.