Hypoxia in the changing marine environment

J. Zhang*, G. Cowie, S. W. A. Naqvi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review


The predicted future of the global marine environment, as a combined result of forcing due to climate change (e.g. warming and acidification) and other anthropogenic perturbation (e.g. eutrophication), presents a challenge to the sustainability of ecosystems from tropics to high latitudes. Among the various associated phenomena of ecosystem deterioration, hypoxia can cause serious problems in coastal areas as well as oxygen minimum zones in the open ocean (Diaz and Rosenberg 2008 Science 321 926-9, Stramma et al 2008 Science 320 655-8). The negative impacts of hypoxia include changes in populations of marine organisms, such as large-scale mortality and behavioral responses, as well as variations of species distributions, biodiversity, physiological stress, and other sub-lethal effects (e. g. growth and reproduction). Social and economic activities that are related to services provided by the marine ecosystems, such as tourism and fisheries, can be negatively affected by the aesthetic outcomes as well as perceived or real impacts on seafood quality (STAP 2011 (Washington, DC: Global Environment Facility) p 88). Moreover, low oxygen concentration in marine waters can have considerable feedbacks to other compartments of the Earth system, like the emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, and can affect the global biogeochemical cycles of nutrients and trace elements. It is of critical importance to prediction and adaptation strategies that the key processes of hypoxia in marine environments be precisely determined and understood (cf Zhang et al 2010 Biogeosciences 7 1-24).

Original languageEnglish
Article number015025
Number of pages3
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • hypoxia
  • marine ecosystem
  • sensitivity
  • hysteresis
  • global change


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