Warming Ocean Holding Less Oxygen. That Seems Like a Problem.

Climate Denial Crock of the Week

Look up some recipes for Jellyfish.


The mid-Pliocene, from 2.6 to 5.3 million years ago, may be the closest the Earth has ever been—climatologically speaking—to where we are now.

With an atmospheric carbon dioxide level about the same as today’s, “the Pliocene is the last time we had a stable, warm climate globally,” says Catherine Davis, an oceanographer at North Carolina State University. The average global temperature was about 2 °C to 3 °C warmer than it is now, she says. The Pliocene had something else climate experts are predicting for our future: massive oxygen minimum zones (OMZs)—largely lifeless stretches of ocean severely lacking in oxygen.

OMZs are common in the ocean. They occur in its deeper reaches, typically between 200 and 1,000 meters below sea level, where oxygen concentrations plummet from their typical level of around six to eight milligrams per liter nearer the surface to less than…

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