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Climate-forced variability of ocean hypoxia
Deutsch, C.; Brix, H.; Ito, T.; Frenzel, H.; Thompson, L. (2011). Climate-forced variability of ocean hypoxia. Science (Wash.) 333(6040): 336-339. dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1202422
In: Science (Washington). American Association for the Advancement of Science: Washington DC. ISSN 0036-8075, more

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Deutsch, C.
  • Brix, H.
  • Ito, T.
  • Frenzel, H.
  • Thompson, L.

Abstract
    Oxygen (O2) is a critical constraint on marine ecosystems. As oceanic O2 falls to hypoxic concentrations, habitability for aerobic organisms decreases rapidly. We show that the spatial extent of hypoxia is highly sensitive to small changes in the ocean’s O2 content, with maximum responses at suboxic concentrations where anaerobic metabolisms predominate. In model-based reconstructions of historical oxygen changes, the world’s largest suboxic zone, in the Pacific Ocean, varies in size by a factor of 2. This is attributable to climate-driven changes in the depth of the tropical and subtropical thermocline that have multiplicative effects on respiration rates in low-O2 water. The same mechanism yields even larger fluctuations in the rate of nitrogen removal by denitrification, creating a link between decadal climate oscillations and the nutrient limitation of marine photosynthesis.

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