Climate change has warmed the Earth. Oceans have responded more slowly than land environments. A new study has found a link between abrupt ocean warming at the end of the last ice age and the sudden onset of low-oxygen, or hypoxic, conditions that led to the vast marine dead zones in the Pacific ocean.
Candace Major said, "This work tackles a long-standing debate about what causes expansion of Oxygen Minimum Zones, also known as dead zones, in the oceans. The results demonstrate a link between warming surface temperatures and dead zones at great depths. The findings also show that the response time between warming and dead zone expansion is quite fast."
Large-scale warming events at about 14,700, and again 11,500, years ago occurred rapidly and triggered loss of oxygen in the North Pacific, raising concern that low-oxygen areas will expand again as the oceans warm in the future. Anomalous warmth that occurred recently in the Northeastern Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea, dubbed 'The Blob', is of a scale similar to events documented in the geologic record.