New research has confirmed a dramatic decrease in oxygen in the Arabian Sea. The environmental disaster is looking worse than expected.
“The ocean is suffocating”. A group of researchers from the British University of East Anglia publishes an alarming study of ocean oxygen levels in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
The Arabian Sea, which includes the Gulf of Oman, is “the largest dead zone in the world”. But until now, no one really knew how bad the situation was because piracy and conflict in the region made data collection too dangerous, says Bastien Queste, one of East Anglia’s researchers.
“Our research shows that the situation is worse than feared and that the dead zone is large and growing. The ocean is suffocating. Of course, all fish, marine plants and other animals need oxygen, so they can not live there. It’s a real environmental problem, with disastrous consequences for humans,” he warns.
In order to update their data, researchers deployed two remote-controlled submarine robots in the Gulf of Oman for eight months. “We have combined the Seaglider data with a very high-resolution computer simulation to determine how oxygen is spread around the sea of northwestern Arabia during different seasons and monsoons,” the scientists explained.
Result: almost no oxygen in a large area the size of Scotland.
In some parts of the world, oxygen is at very low levels. They are called “minimal zones of oxygen”. Computer simulations show a decrease in oxygen over the next century and minimal areas of oxygen growth.
They are aggravated by the warming of the oceans, the warmer water containing less oxygen, but also by the fertilizers and wastewater that flow into the seas, explains the statement.