"We couldn't believe our eyes," Lubchenco said, recalling her initial impression of the carnage brought about by oxygen-starved waters. "It was so overwhelming and depressing. It appeared that everything that couldn't swim or scuttle away had died."
Upon further study, Lubchenco and other marine ecologists at
"We seem to have crossed a tipping point," Lubchenco said. "Low-oxygen zones off the Northwest coast appear to be the new normal." Although scientists continue to amass data and tease out the details, all signs in the search for a cause point to stronger winds associated with a warming planet.
If this theory holds up, it means that global warming and the build-up of heat-trapping gases are bringing about oceanic changes beyond those previously documented: a rise in sea level, more acidic ocean water and the bleaching of coral reefs. Low-oxygen dead zones, which have doubled in number every decade and exist around the world, have a variety of causes....
Photo of marine life killed by oxygen depletion by Kils, Wikimedia Commons