Last summer, more than 100 miles of Florida’s coastal waters became an oxygen-depleted dead zone, littered with fish that could be seen even into Tampa Bay. On the other side of the country, Dungeness crabs were washing onto Oregon’s shoreline, unable to escape from water that has, in dramatic episodes, become seasonally depleted of oxygen over the past two decades.
While much of the conversation around our climate crisis focuses on the emission of greenhouse gases and their effect on warming, precipitation, sea level rise and ocean acidification, little is said about the effect of climate change on oxygen levels, particularly in oceans and lakes. Water without adequate oxygen cannot support life, and for the three billion people who depend on coastal fisheries for income, declining ocean oxygen levels are catastrophic.
As ocean and atmospheric scientists focused on climate, we believe that oceanic oxygen levels are the next big casualty of global warming. To stop this, we need to build on the momentum of the recent COP26 summit and expand our attention to the perilous state of oceanic oxygen levels—the life support system of our planet. We need to accelerate ocean-
— source scientificamerican.com | Julie Pullen | Nov 23, 2021