Ocean Deserts: The black areas in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are the least productive, "desert" regions. These barren areas are found in roughly 20 percent of the world's oceans and are within subtropical gyres -- the swirling expanses of water on either side of the equator. NOAA

By Michael Reilly, Discovery News

Aug. 27, 2009 -- Ocean "deserts" -- where tiny amounts of life subsist on a scant trickle of nutrients -- have gotten more extreme in the last 10 years, according to a new study.

Despite widespread uncertainty among scientists, these vast stretches of barren sea could affect the marine food chain, and ultimately impact global fish stocks.

There are five ocean deserts on Earth, one each in the North and South Pacific, North and South Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean. They are nearly unfathomable in size; one could easily fit the entire land area of the United States inside. And they appear to be growing more barren with each passing year.

In a study due to be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, two researchers present satellite data showing that the most empty portions of the deserts expanded some 5 million square kilometers of ocean between 1997 and 2007, an area equivalent to about half the land area of all 50 United States. …

Ocean 'Deserts' Becoming More Lifeless



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