Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Dead zone returns to Oregon coast

Low oxygen levels are affecting the ocean off the central coast of Oregon once again. From
A team of Oregon State University scientists monitoring near-shore ocean conditions off Oregon says that oxygen levels in the lower water column have plummeted, thrusting the region into a hypoxic event for the sixth consecutive year.

Hypoxia can lead to significant marine die-offs, the researchers say, depending on the severity, duration and location of the low-oxygen zone.

Although conditions this summer have not yet duplicated the severity of the historic hypoxic event of 2006, the outlook for the remainder of the summer and early fall is uncertain.
My family happened to be vacationing at Yachats, south of Newport, during that event in 2006, and while the impact to shore visitors was not all that dramatic, there was a definite discoloration of the water and and a nasty foam that collected in tidepools. Of course, the big impact is not on those of us who vacation there but those who depend on the ocean for their living.

Is this related to climate change? One scientist quoted in a different article attributed to Seattle Times staff and the AP thinks so:
"It does, indeed, appear to be the new normal," said Jane Lubchenco, professor of marine biology at Oregon State University.

"The appearance of the low-oxygen water again is consistent with predictions of climate change. The fact that we are seeing six in a row now tells us that something pretty fundamental has changed about conditions off our coast."
Our family has been going to the Oregon coast for about 17 years now, and it's sad to contemplate that these hypoxic "dead zones" may become permanent.

<< Home