Over the history of humanity, we have used our global oceans as literal dumping grounds. From human waste to toxic pollution, humanity has disrespected the oceans and seas, assuming that the size and natural order of things would take care of the problem. What many may not be aware of is that in some areas of the world, the dumping was so intense that it created what scientists call ‘dead-zones’. These are areas that have such high toxic levels that there is little oxygen and very little, if any life. Recent technological advancements have given rise to some rather interesting ideas as to how to bring these dead-zones back.

Humanity has not taken heed to the dumping of sewage, fertilizers and industrial pollutants in the seas and rivers of the world. In some coastal marine areas, the percentage of nutrient waste such as phosphorus and nitrogen has caused an extensive growth of algae and plants that eat up the oxygen in the water and literally kill off the other marine life. Various areas around the globe have experienced an increase in ‘red tide’ occurrences as well as the size of the red tide itself. These are explosions in growth of algae that consume the oxygen and release a toxic ‘bloom’ that causes marine life to die in unparalleled numbers. Beaches are covered in dead fish, as they die and are washed ashore. Some areas of the U.S. have established new laws regarding the addition of fertilizers, the type and time allowed to use; but this will not be enough to turn around the effects. According to the WRI (World Resources Institute), there are now over 530 aquatic dead zones around the world, totaling over 95,000 square miles and scientific data is indicating that climate change may be actually making the situation worse.

Swedish scientists are currently testing an idea to pump oxygen back into the Baltic Sea, as an attempt to rejuvenate life in that area. The Baltic Sea separates the mainland of Europe from Scandinavia and is considered the largest man-made dead zone in the world. Not only has the Baltic region suffered in the last sixty years due to the increased flow of industrial and human waste, but the problem has been accelerated because of the positioning of the Baltic Sea. It is largely enclosed so that harmful toxins and pollutants take a longer period of time to wash out into open waters. While there have been many attempts to reduce and stop the waste that is dumped into the Baltic Sea, they have not stopped the actual growth of the dead zone, which is around 1 ½ times the size of the country of Denmark.

This lack of progress has created a situation where a number of Baltic countries are partnering to consider geoengineering ideas. These technological interventions are on a large scale and mainly focus on pumping oxygen into the water as well as adding chemicals that will bind the pollutants in sediments. The feasibility research is being funded by the Swedish government with the concept of potentially using wind-turbine driven oxygen in an effort to save the Baltic.

Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/07/17/world/europe/dead-zone-baltic-oxygen/index.html?iid=article_sidebar

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3 Responses to “Saving the Ocean’s Dead-Zone: Will Oxygen Help?”

  1. 1
    CantDance Says:

    Maybe pumping oxygen back into the ocean will help. It would be good to hear a follow up on this, to see if this actually worked. If it does, then it could be shared with all of the other countries that have dead zones and maybe we can do some good, instead of harm to the ocean.

  2. 2
    FloridaBabe Says:

    If we don’t stop the destruction, there will be more and more areas that will be dead zones. I can remember seeing what was called a fish-kill. Thousands and thousands of dead fish on the shore, due to pollution and an algae bloom. It looked like someone set a bomb off and the fish paid the price.

  3. 3
    Alottaluck Says:

    As long as we don’t have to see it, the dead zones aren’t a priority. It’s been in the news a lot more recently and good to hear that some top scientists are trying to work on fixing another area of damage that we have created. It may set off a light bulb for those people that wonder why so many parts of the world are having algae blooms (also known as red tide). When it hits their favorite beaches, they will finally pay attention.

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