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By Rosanna Zhao, V Form, Mary Hoffman, VI Form, and Claire O’Brien, VI Form
Hypoxia: The Forming of Dead Zones
A “Dead Zone” is a region in the ocean in which oxygen concentrations are too low to support healthy marine life. This phenomenon of insufficient oxygen levels is known as hypoxia. Hypoxia is associated with the overabundance of algae which can lead to oxygen deficiency when they cover the water surface and disallow photosynthesis to occur within plants beneath the water. Once a vast body of water becomes hypoxic and oxygen levels drop below 2 ppm DO, a dead zone is formed.
Dead zones occur near coastal regions because the cause of formation is primarily linked with eutrophication. Eutrophication is defined by an excess of nutrient pollution in an open body of water, causing death of animal life due to a deficiency of oxygen. Although nutrients are good for fertilizing plants, nutrient pollution is detrimental to the ocean because it causes chances in the marine ecosystem, resulting in deaths of animals. During the spring and the summer, heavy rain washes nutrients containing nitrogen and phosphorus that farmers use to fertilize their land into streams and rivers. Once these nutrients flow into coastal areas, they stimulate the growth of algae. (more…)