Ocean dead zones and nutrient stewardship
Posted by Alison Loomis | California, United States
In the past 50 years open ocean hypoxia has increased fourfold, according to UCSD. The nutrient-driven oxygen decline causes massive dead zones around the globe--stemming mostly from chemical fertilizer/agricultural runoff, at times, sewage treatment. The United Nations estimates the world only has about 60 years of topsoil left. Not to mention intensified monoculture farming is responsible for almost 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to World Economic Forum. This exacerbates systemic problems in the ocean.
The Nature Conservancy has helped employ "nutrient stewardship" within the Mississippi Basin. However its not enough to stop the cycle of dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico. Apart from better ocean chemistry monitoring, how can ocean scientists play a stronger role in reducing excess nutrient runoff into the Gulf of Mexico and on the West Coast? Could universal adoption of regenerative farming practices become a feasible solution for dead zones? How could ocean researchers carry out such studies?