The Fruits of Civilization (68-2) Dusted Oceans

 Dusted Oceans

Pollution can invoke dramatic environmental dynamics. Partly through dust, Chinese pollution has raised the levels of iron and nitrogen in the ocean off the coast of east Asia. These are key nutrients for marine life.

Ocean currents carry the artificial enrichment to tropical waters, where the minerals are consumed by phytoplankton.

While the phytoplankton may have oxygenated the atmosphere with their exhaust, their dietary indulgence has a negative effect on dissolved oxygen in the deep. When plankton expire, their organic matter sinks. Bacteria below consume the remains, using oxygen in the water to do so. This lowers the oxygen level in the ocean, leading to hypoxic events that alter marine habitats.

Air pollution can circulate across the ocean and affect ecosystems thousands of kilometers away. Dust can have a huge impact on the health of the oceans. ~ Greek American ecologist Athanasios Nenes