The Ocean Is Suffocating, and It’s Our Fault

By Mindy Weisberger

Ocean “dead zones” — regions of the sea where oxygen is severely or entirely depleted and most forms of life can’t survive — are becoming more numerous, and scientists warn that they will continue to increase unless we curb the factors driving global climate change, which is fueling this alarming shift in ocean chemistry.

Even outside these near-lifeless ocean regions, rising global temperatures and influxes of nutrient pollution are throttling oxygen levels in the open ocean and in coastal areas, threatening communities of sea life around the world.

This sobering view of the “suffocating” ocean was described in a new study, published online today (Jan. 4) in the journal Science. The study is the first to present such a comprehensive evaluation of ocean oxygen depletion and its causes. And less oxygen in the ocean doesn’t just spell trouble for marine plants and animals — it could carry serious repercussions for life on land as well, the researchers cautioned. 

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