Theory for dead zone off Oregon Coast

Theory for dead zone off Oregon Coast

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by Keely Chalmers

Bio | Email | Follow: @KeelyChalmers

kgw.com

Posted on December 17, 2009 at 8:30 AM

Updated Thursday, Dec 17 at 10:21 AM

EUGENE, Ore. --  After 7 years of research, a team of OSU scientists believe they know, in part, what’s causing the dead zone off the Oregon coast.

The Oregon State University scientists said they now have evidence that the dead zones were directly related to a warming climate.

The dead zone started appearing off the Oregon coast in 2002. It’s an area of low oxygen water. 

The worst-ever dead zone was recorded in 2006.  That’s when the oxygen level dropped to zero.  Dead crabs and fish littered the seafloor. 

The researchers studied seafloor samples dating back to the Ice Age taken off the Chilean coast.  Using a CT scan to study each layer of the core they found that sea life flourished during the ice age, but started dying off when the temperature started to rise.

"As that climate warming occurred during the end of last Ice Age that’s when the systems lost their oxygen.  The currents less active they brought less oxygen then those dead zones expanded," said OSU oceanography professor Alan Mix.

The researchers explained that a deadzone off the coast of Chile was very similar to the one off the Oregon coast.

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