MIT creates new atlas of oxygen-poor waters

The 3D maps would help researchers track and predict the ocean's response to climate change.

3D maps to help researchers track and predict the ocean's response to climate change (MIT).

MIT scientists have created the most detailed three-dimensional “atlas“ of the world's largest oxygen-deprived ocean zones - MIT reports on its website. The so-called “ODZs“ are areas in the oceans where oxygen levels naturally decline and the water becomes uninhabitable for most aerobic organisms, MIT writes. The zones accounted for less than 1 per cent of the total volume of the ocean, but are a significant source of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas.

According to the report, the new atlas includes high-resolution maps of the two large bodies of oxygen-poor water in the tropical Pacific. These maps showed the volume, extent and varying depths of each ODZ, as well as fine-scale features such as bands of oxygen-rich water entering otherwise oxygen-poor zones.

Large oxygen-poor zones in the tropics

They say the atlas serves as a reference for where the ODZs are today. The team hopes “scientists will be able to supplement this atlas with more measurements to better track changes in these zones and predict how they will shift as the climate warms.“

“It is widely expected that the oceans will lose oxygen as the climate warms. But the situation is more complicated in the tropics, where there are large oxygen-depleted zones,“ says Jarek Kwiecinski (21), who helped develop the atlas. “It's important to make a detailed map of these zones so we have an indication of future changes.“

Written by: had

Photos: Jarek Kwiecinski and Andrew Babbin

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