Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dead Zones in Estuaries Around the World are Doubling in Size and Doubling Again

From the Washington Post...

... the number of oxygen-starved "dead zones" in coastal waters around the world has roughly doubled every decade since the 1960s, killing fish, crustaceans and massive amounts of marine life at the base of the food chain, according to a study released today.

... Diaz and co-author Rutger Rosenberg of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden counted more than 400 dead zones globally, ranging from massive ones in the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Mexico to small ones that episodically appear in river estuaries. ...

Hypoxia has been seen for decades in such places as the Chesapeake Bay, Lake Erie, the Gulf of Mexico and Long Island Sound, but Diaz's survey has found new zones in the Florida Keys, Puget Sound and tidal creeks in the Carolinas.

"We're saying that hypoxia is now everywhere, it seems," said Diaz. "We can say that human activities really screwed up oxygen conditions in our coastal areas."


Monday, August 04, 2008

Sound Health, Beach Closings, Hypoxia

The Sound Health report, written and published by the Long Island Sound Study, came out about a week ago. Some newspaper accounts interpreted it as showing that environmental onditions in the Sound are improving. I've looked at it and I'm not sure I agree. You can read it yourself (and you should), here.

Meanwhile, the Natural Resources Defense Council issued its annual report on beach closings on the Sound. There were fewer in 2007 than in 2006. However you should not be encouraged by this. Since most beach closing are automatically triggered after a heavy rain, all it means is that it rained less last year than the year before. Here's the report.

Dissolved oxygen concentrations are really low in the western end of the Sound, which is bad even if it isn't surprising. Here's what the Connecticut DEP said in its most recent report, which is a week old already:

The 2008 July Hypoxia Survey was conducted 21 and 22 July. Twenty-nine stations were sampled. Engine trouble on 7/25 precluded sampling eleven stations in the central basin/western narrows. Bottom water dissolved oxygen concentrations fell below 4.8 mg/L at 18 stations with ten of those stations falling below 3.5 mg/L and five stations falling below 3.0 mg/L. The lowest concentration was observed at Station A4 (0.68 mg/L). The area of bottom water affected by hypoxia (DO <3.5>

I wish I had time to translate that into plain English, but I don't. Readership of this blog has peaked lately but unfortunately I'm finding less and less time to do the work it takes to keep on top of things, mainly because of work responsibilities -- I'm the acting executive director at Westchester Land Trust, where I've worked for almost eight years, while still serving as communications director. Given how little time I've had over the past two weeks, I don't think things will get better over the next two, and the I'm off for two weeks on Block Island. When school starts, and I'm getting out of bed an ridiculously early hours again, maybe blogging will pick up.

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