Suffocating Seas; October 2008; Scientific American Magazine; by Barbara Juncosa; 2 Page(s)
¿Wasteland¿ conjures up visions of dusty desolation where life is fleeting and harsh¿if it exists at all. Oceans, too, have their inhospitable pockets. Scientists are discovering that climate change¿and not just fertilizer from farm use¿may be spurring the emergence of barren underwater landscapes in coastal waters. Expanding dead zones not only spell trouble for biodiversity, but they also threaten the commercial fisheries of many nations.
Dead zones are not new; they form seasonally in economically vital ecoystems worldwide, including the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay. Agricultural runoff sparks many of these die-offs; increased use of nitrogen fertilizers has doubled the number of lifeless pockets every decade since the 1960s, resulting in 405 dead zones now dotting coastlines globally.