Oxygen is fundamental to oceanic biological processes and its decline can cause major changes in ocean productivity and biodiversity. Over the past 50 years low oxygen zones in the open oceans have expanded by an area equivalent to half the size of Canada and hundreds of coastal sites now have low oxygen concentrations that limit the distribution and abundance of animal populations.
During the last deglaciation atmosphere CO2 concentration rose by about 80 ppm amplifying climate warming. This study of radiocarbon in deep sea corals found that Southern ocean deep water was radiocarbon-depleted throughout the last ice age, but this depletion disappeared between 16,600 and 14,600 years ago consistent with Southern Ocean CO2 outgassing that corresponded to the first pulse of increased atmospheric CO2 early in the deglaciation.
A reanalysis of the effect of black carbon emissions has found that it is second only to carbon dioxide emissions in its warming impact on the climate. Together carbon dioxide, black carbon, and methane emissions represent the anthropogenic sources with the largest impact on Earth’s climate.
A recent study, published in Nature, reports on how anonymized data from three quarter of a million global smart phones was used to detect and map physical inactivity around the world. The study is an outstanding example of the type of scientific analyses that is possible using human beings as sensors.