Latest Research on Oregon’s Oceanic “Dead Zones” and How Climate Change May Be Promoting Them

nsflogoYet another ecological scourge may earn a place on the ever-lengthening list of problems associated with climate change: the formation of some types of so-called “dead zones”–marine expanses covering hundreds, or even thousands, of square miles that become too oxygen-starved during the summer to support most life forms.

Armed with new analyses of Oregon’s 2009 dead zone season, Jack Barth of Oregon State University will explain how climate change may be promoting the development of Oregon’s dead zones, summarize the ecological impacts of dead zones, discuss why scientists believe that dead zones are now regular summer fixtures in Oregon’s coastal waters, and describe his research team’s pioneering methods for studying dead zones in Oregon and Chile.

Oregon’s marine dead zones are a particularly timely topic because: 1) the Earth currently has more than 400 dead zones–with the count doubling every ten years; 2) scientists suspect that dead zones off the Oregon and Washington coasts may be caused by climate change, unlike the overwhelming majority of dead zones, which are caused by pollution; 3) the Pacific Northwest’s dead zones are located in one of the nation’s most important fisheries; and 4) the Pacific Northwest’s dead zones, which have appeared every summer since 2002, are a relatively new phenomenon.

In addition to hosting the webcast with Jack Barth on October 8, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will also release on October 8 a multi-media package about the Pacific Northwest’s dead zones, entitled Dead Zones: Mysteries of Ocean Die-Offs Revealed. The multimedia package will be posted on NSF’s Web site at

Who: Jack Barth, an expert on Oregon’s dead zones from Oregon State University.
What: Media teleconference and webcast to discuss Oregon’s Dead Zones.
When: Thursday, October 8, 2009, at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

How to Participate: Reporters are invited to participate in a live video teleconference hosted by NSF with Jack Barth of Oregon State University on Thursday, October 8, at 1:30 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time. Reporters in the United States may participate by teleconference or Internet. To participate by teleconference, call (800) 779-5386. To obtain the password to participate in the teleconference and to obtain the URL and password to access the webcast, email Lily Whiteman at During the event, email questions for Jack Barth to

[Source: NSF press release]

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