A new study reveals that the low-oxygen zones in the oceans are expanding since 1950 and “suffocating” the oceans. The scientists warn that these regions of the oceans will continue to increase as the Earth warms and will affect humans and marine organisms.
The findings of the study were published in the journal Science on January 4. The study was led by researchers from the GO2NE or the Global Ocean Oxygen Network, which was established in 2016 by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, according to Phys.org.
Denise Breitburg, the lead author of the study and the marine ecologist with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, explained that oxygen is fundamental to life in the oceans. She further explained that the decline in ocean oxygen could be the most serious effect of human activities on the Earth’s environment.
It is found that the ocean waters had lost about 85 billion tons or 77 billion metric tons of oxygen over the past 50 years. It is estimated to be about the area size of the European Union. The team also discovered that the amount of zero-oxygen ocean water worldwide had quadrupled. Meanwhile, the low-oxygen zones have increased by 10 times, according to Live Science.
The low oxygen levels could definitely affect the humanity and the marine life. It is reported that the oceans feed about over 500 million people, particularly in poorer countries. These surface waters also provide jobs for about 350 million people worldwide.
Scientists also warn that reduction in oxygen levels could make the fish and other marine organisms more vulnerable to disease. They could also affect their reproduction making them difficult to propagate. There is also a possibility of suffocation that could lead to the death of marine life.
The scientists advise the people on how to address the issue of low oxygen levels in the oceans. They urge humans to cut fossil fuel emissions, which causing climate change. This could fight the climate change as well as prevent harmful air pollutants.
They recommend better septic systems and sanitation that could enhance the welfare of the people and could keep pollution out of the water. Create marine protected areas or no-catch zones in places animals use to escape low oxygen. Enhance the monitoring of low-oxygen zones worldwide particularly in developing countries and know which areas are at risk and suggest the most effective solutions in solving the problem.
Breitburg said that addressing climate change may seem difficult to deal with. However, it is essential for stemming the decline of oxygen in the oceans and for almost all aspects of life on Earth, according to Breitburg.