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Study: Global Warming Worsening Watery Dead Zones

Seth Borenstein - Associated Press
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November 10, 2014
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A fisherman collects dead "popocha" fish at the lagoon of Cajititlan in Tlajomulco de Zuniga, Jalisco State, Mexico. (Hector Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images)

Global warming is likely playing a bigger role than previously thought in dead zones in oceans, lakes and rivers around the world and it’s only going to get worse, according to a new study.

Dead zones occur when fertilizer runoff clogs waterways with nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous. That leads to an explosion of microbes that consumes oxygen and leaves the water depleted of oxygen, harming marine life.

Scientists have long known that warmer water increases this problem, but a new study Monday in the journal Global Change Biology by Smithsonian Institution researchers found about two dozen different ways — biologically, chemically and physically — that climate change worsens the oxygen depletion.

“We’ve underestimated the effect of climate change on dead zones,” said study lead author Andrew Altieri, a researcher at the Smithsonian’s tropical center in Panama.

Read the rest at The Detroit News

Around 500 tons of fish were killed by the spill of molasses from a factory of cattle food upstream into the lagoon of the Hurtado dam in Acatlan de Juarez, state of Jalisco, Mexico. Fishermen collected dead fish piled in the banks of the lagoon on July 1, 2013. (AFP)

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