Articles | Volume 7, issue 5
Biogeosciences, 7, 1443–1467, 2010

Special issue: Hypoxia

Biogeosciences, 7, 1443–1467, 2010

  10 May 2010

10 May 2010

Natural and human-induced hypoxia and consequences for coastal areas: synthesis and future development

J. Zhang1, D. Gilbert2, A. J. Gooday3, L. Levin4, S. W. A. Naqvi5, J. J. Middelburg6, M. Scranton7, W. Ekau8, A. Peña9, B. Dewitte10, T. Oguz11, P. M. S. Monteiro12, E. Urban13, N. N. Rabalais14, V. Ittekkot8, W. M. Kemp15, O. Ulloa16, R. Elmgren17, E. Escobar-Briones18, and A. K. Van der Plas19 J. Zhang et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research, East China Normal University, 3663 Zhongshan Road North, Shanghai 200062, China
  • 2Maurice-Lamontagne Institute, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Mont-Joli, Quebec G5H 3Z4, Canada
  • 3National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, Empress Dock, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK
  • 4Integrative Oceanography Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, CA 92093-0218, USA
  • 5Chemical Oceanography Division, National Institute of Oceanography, Dona Paula, Goa 403004, India
  • 6Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Centre for Estuarine and Marine Ecology, Korringaweg 7, 4401 NT Yerseke, and Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80021, 3508 TA Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 7School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook NY 11794, USA
  • 8Center for Tropical Marine Ecology, Fahrenheitstrasse 6, 28359 Bremen, Germany
  • 9Institute of Ocean Sciences, Fisheries & Oceans Canada, P.O. Box 6000, Sidney, B.C. V8L 4B2, Canada
  • 10LEGOS/IRD, 14 av. Edouard Belin, 31400 Toulouse, France
  • 11Institute of Marine Sciences, Middle East Technical University, Erdemli 33731, Turkey
  • 12Ocean Systems & Climate Group, CSIR, P.O. Box 320, Stellenbosch 7599, South Africa
  • 13Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research, College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • 14Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, 8124 Highway 56, Chauvin, LA 70344, USA
  • 15Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, P.O. Box 775, Cambridge, MD 21613, USA
  • 16Departmento de Oceanografia, Universidad de Concepcion, Cabina 7 – Barrio Universitario, Casilla 160-C, Concepcion 3, Chile
  • 17Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
  • 18Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnologia, Universidad National Autonoma de Mexico, A. P. 70305 Ciudad Universitaria 04510, Mexico
  • 19Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, P.O. Box 912, Swakopmund, Namibia

Abstract. Hypoxia has become a world-wide phenomenon in the global coastal ocean and causes a deterioration of the structure and function of ecosystems. Based on the collective contributions of members of SCOR Working Group #128, the present study provides an overview of the major aspects of coastal hypoxia in different biogeochemical provinces, including estuaries, coastal waters, upwelling areas, fjords and semi-enclosed basins, with various external forcings, ecosystem responses, feedbacks and potential impact on the sustainability of the fishery and economics. The obvious external forcings include freshwater runoff and other factors contributing to stratification, organic matter and nutrient loadings, as well as exchange between coastal and open ocean water masses. Their different interactions set up mechanisms that drive the system towards hypoxia. Coastal systems also vary in their relative susceptibility to hypoxia depending on their physical and geographic settings. It is understood that coastal hypoxia has a profound impact on the sustainability of ecosystems, which can be seen, for example, by the change in the food-web structure and system function; other influences include compression and loss of habitat, as well as changes in organism life cycles and reproduction. In most cases, the ecosystem responds to the low dissolved oxygen in non-linear ways with pronounced feedbacks to other compartments of the Earth System, including those that affect human society. Our knowledge and previous experiences illustrate that there is a need to develop new observational tools and models to support integrated research of biogeochemical dynamics and ecosystem behavior that will improve confidence in remediation management strategies for coastal hypoxia.

Special issue
Final-revised paper