CORVALLIS, Ore., Oct. 9 (UPI) — An enormous dead zone in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Oregon and Washington likely is caused by climate change and may be irreversible, a scientist said.
The oxygen-depleted zone, which is the size of New Jersey, is one of 400 such zones starving sea life around the world, Oregon State University oceanography Jack Barth said.
Most of the dead zones are caused by fertilizer and sewage that end up in oceans through river runoff. The Pacific Northwest dead zone, however, likely is caused by evolving wind conditions from climate change and will probably appear each summer, Barth said.
“I really think we’re in a new pattern, a new rhythm, offshore now,” Barth told the Los Angeles Times in a story published Friday.
The number of ocean dead zones worldwide is doubling every decade, a National Science Foundation report said.
Dead zones are created when plankton forms on the surface of the ocean, then decays and falls to the ocean floor, where further decay consumes oxygen in the water.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International