Emergence of Anoxia in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem

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Science  15 Feb 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5865, pp. 920
DOI: 10.1126/science.1149016

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Eastern boundary current systems are among the world's most productive large marine ecosystems. Because upwelling currents transport nutrient-rich but oxygen-depleted water onto shallow seas, large expanses of productive continental shelves can be vulnerable to the risk of extreme low-oxygen events. Here, we report the novel rise of water-column shelf anoxia in the northern California Current system, a large marine ecosystem with no previous record of such extreme oxygen deficits. The expansion of anoxia highlights the potential for rapid and discontinuous ecosystem change in productive coastal systems that sustain a major portion of the world's fisheries.

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