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posted by janrinok on Tuesday February 06, @01:21PM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

Marine anoxia is characterized by the oceans being severely depleted in dissolved oxygen, making them toxic and thus having devastating impacts on the organisms inhabiting them. One such event, known as Oceanic Anoxic Event 2 (OAE2), occurred ~93.5 million years ago across the Cenomanian-Turonian boundary of the Upper Cretaceous and lasted for up to 700,000 years.

During such scenarios, organic matter is buried at an elevated rate, producing distinctive layers of black shale in the geological record, which are depleted in the isotopically-heavier carbon-13, therefore generating a positive carbon isotope excursion of ~6‰ for this study period.

The specific factors triggering OAE2 are still debated, but the most widely supported is volcanism from the Caribbean Large Igneous Province and High Arctic Large Igneous Province, increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and therefore warming the planet.

Among the plethora of impacts from a warmer planet is increased weathering of land, with fluvial processes transporting this material to the oceans, providing key nutrients to primary producers in the surface ocean. Enhanced primary productivity produces more oxygen, but trophic food chains ultimately use up more of this oxygen in their metabolic processes.

Compounded by decreased solubility of oxygen in warmer oceans, this results in widespread deoxygenation of Earth's marine realm, the focus of new research published in Climates of the Past.

[...] Revealing the significance of the work, Dr. Abraham said, "Our research delves into the ancient oceans' secrets, specifically a period 93.5 million years ago when much of the ocean was devoid of oxygen. By studying natural chemical fingerprints preserved in marine sediments, we uncover how volcanic activities and climate warming in the past led to drastic ocean deoxygenation. Understanding this in deep time is crucial, as they mirror the challenges we face today with the ongoing climate crisis, helping us predict and mitigate future consequences."

Taking samples of organic matter from the drilled cores, the research team isolated compounds of biological origin that are stable over geological time periods of millions of years, known as biomarkers. Dr. Abraham explains that biomarkers are known as "molecular fossils," adding, "Biomarkers are chemical compounds found in sedimentary rocks that originated from living organisms millions of years ago. Think of them as molecular fossils that, unlike bones or shells, are not easily visible to the naked eye. These compounds, once part of living organisms, have remained chemically stable over vast geological timescales.

"We extract them carefully using a series of chemical procedures and a technique known as gas chromatography–mass spectrometry in the lab to isolate these compounds from the drilled sediments and to avoid contamination.

"Analyzing these biomarkers helps us reconstruct past environmental conditions, such as temperature and oxygen levels in the oceans, but linking their presence to specific historical environmental conditions requires meticulous laboratory work and a profound understanding of geochemical processes."

The scientists found that the percentage of total organic carbon content of the samples increased through the study period (3.8 million years), peaking at ~28 weight % at OAE2 from initial levels of 1–17 weight %. This occurred alongside a ~5-8°C increase in sea surface temperature up to ~43°C.

Key biomarkers of 28,30-dinorhopane and lycopane are indicative of this warming and decline in oxygen, forming an oxygen minimum zone in the Cenomanian, similar to those observed in the Black Sea today. This data is coupled with a noticeable reduction in the abundance of benthic foraminifera (bottom ocean-dwelling single-celled microorganisms) in the late Cenomanian, as they were not able to survive in the depleted-oxygen environment.

Such persistent low-oxygen layers increase in number and size with enhanced warming of the oceans, forming a thick zone at depth below a highly productive thin surface layer that is oxygen-rich. Biomarkers of C35 hopanoid thiophene and isorenieratane reveal this water-column euxinia (both anoxic and sulphidic) expanded to finally reach the surface photic zone through the Cenomanian-Turonian boundary at OAE2.

[...] Looking ahead to the future of Earth's oceans with the expansion of oxygen minimum zones, Dr. Abraham says, "In today's world, oceanic conditions are generally hypoxic but have not yet reached anoxic levels in open oceans. However, closed basins or seas are more prone to becoming anoxic.

"With ongoing global warming, it is predicted that oxygen minimum zones will expand both horizontally and vertically. Warmer water holds less oxygen, and increased surface temperatures can lead to stronger stratification of ocean layers, thereby reducing the mixing that normally replenishes oxygen in deeper waters.

"Additionally, global warming can enhance biological activity in surface waters, resulting in more organic matter sinking to the depths, where it consumes oxygen as it decomposes, a process evident during OAE2.

"Today, oxygen minimum zones are primarily found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, with conditions making life hard for many marine species. With the current trends of global warming, these zones are expected to expand, reducing habitable marine space and adversely affecting marine biodiversity and fisheries.

"By the end of this century, if the current trajectory of warming and nutrient runoff continues, we might see a significant increase in anoxic and euxinic conditions in our oceans, threatening marine ecosystems and the services they provide to humanity."

Journal information: Climate of the Past

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by turgid on Tuesday February 06, @09:41PM (4 children)

    by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 06, @09:41PM (#1343383) Journal

    We have a clothes dryer for those days when it's very wet or the hours of daylight aren't long enough to dry the clothes. We also have power-hungry dehumidifiers to help when we need to dry things indoors.

    We both drive hybrids. That's what we could afford. My wife gave up work, so doesn't commute. I work from home so rarely commute.

    Our new house will be well insulated and heated with a heat pump and have solar panels. Nothing is perfect, but these are all stepping stones to the future. As for lawns, we won't have one, unless it's made of moss.

    In recent years I've cut down my meat intake.

    On a personal level, this is less than a drop in the ocean. We'll be stretching our budget with our new house, but I don't know what more we can do. I need warmth for health reasons. Living in a cold house is not an option. I could eat less. I already travel as little as possible.

    What really irks me is I knew about, as did much wiser people, this stuff 40 years ago. About 30 years ago I went into the civillian nuclear power industry, to do my bit, to make a difference and anticipating new developments. It's about 25 years since I left that industry bored and frustrated and we're only just getting around to building Hinkley C in the UK. There is wind and solar which are not used nearly enough. I live in an area where it's almost always blowing a gale. I will get around to exploiting that at some point.

    Whatever I've worked on, in whatever industry throughout my life I see people making mistakes and muddling through. There's precious little planning and method. Most of what happens is by accident. Cost cutting and asset sweating doesn't help. We are bad at planning for the long term.

    The old adage goes that if you want something doing right you've got to do it yourself. Every time the human race figure out a way of scaling that up to team size the cost cutters come along and demand it done cheaper for a quicker profit and it all falls apart.

    I don't know what the answer is, and if I had it, no one would want to hear it. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we're doomed.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday February 06, @11:21PM (2 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday February 06, @11:21PM (#1343411)

    >I work from home so rarely commute.

    This is the BIG savings: wallet and environment. My 4300lb V8 sedan that gets 21mpg does far less damage to the environment than my neighbors' Tesla, because: it drives about 1500 miles a year, as compared with their Tesla's 20,000. Kudos to them for getting an efficient vehicle, but of course they drive even more now than they did before, requiring: tires, road construction and maintenance, battery replacement, vehicle recycling when they get tired of the roach colony eating the french fries they drop between the seats, etc. etc.

    🌻🌻 []
    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by bzipitidoo on Wednesday February 07, @01:59AM (1 child)

      by bzipitidoo (4388) on Wednesday February 07, @01:59AM (#1343434) Journal

      That's another area in which Americans have been bamboozled. Like most Americans, my S. O. thinks nothing of a 10 mile drive. My grandparents home town (pop 1200) is about 10 miles from a larger town, and back in the day the locals all thought of that as a trip to think about before making. You're driving out of town, to another town. But now, in these days of huge metroplexes, you can easily drive 10 miles in a straight line and never get outside the city you started in, and people will make such trips without hesitation, thinking of it as just local.

      For a while, the S. O. worked for a company run by a Nigerian who shamelessly took advantage of that American blindness to the costs of travel. The S. O. was sent on house calls exclusively, and paid only for the time at the house, not for the travel time, nor for the gas and wear and tear. Repeatedly, I pointed out that this was a ripoff, that travel is costly, but the S. O. just couldn't see it, couldn't view travel as a significant expense, nor time sink. A year after parting ways with that employer, we learned that they were indeed being paid extra for house calls. They were simply pocketing that extra money, not passing on one cent.

      Commuting is a huge consideration in whether I view a job offer favorably or not. It's not just the personal expense. If an employer wants employees to put in face time that really isn't necessary, then the unstated reason is likely that they don't trust their employees not to goof off when not being monitored. That's not an employer I want to work for.

      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday February 07, @10:55AM

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday February 07, @10:55AM (#1343502)

        Americans also fall for the "discount fallacy". Basing decisions not "how much does it cost?" but rather on "how much am I saving?" when, of course, they could do nothing and save the whole transaction cost, but instead they feel like they are somehow winning by getting a $50,000 new car for $40,000 or making a trip that cost $200 for $50. This is right in line with "drink more diet soda, lose more weight!!!"

        🌻🌻 []
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday February 06, @11:25PM

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday February 06, @11:25PM (#1343413)

    >It's about 25 years since I left that industry bored and frustrated and we're only just getting around to building Hinkley C in the UK.

    The US NRC made me an offer to be a plant inspector in 1990 - I graciously thanked them for the expenses paid interview and declined. Something about the director I interviewed with sounding like he actually believed new plants were coming online "any day now..." Either he was deliberately lying to me: bad, or he actually was delusional: worse. In the US we're just starting to get Vogtle units 3 & 4 close to being ready to go online, some 34 years after I had that conversation... nothing else has been built in the interim.

    🌻🌻 []