Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Planet Earth

Can Hurricane Dean "Wake" Up Fisheries?

The IntersectionBy Sheril KirshenbaumAugust 23, 2007 7:04 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Chris just mentioned Hurricane Dean's cold wake, and I'm reminded that there may be some potentially helpful implications for the fisheries of the region. I recently explained the concept of "dead zones": oxygen-free ocean regions characterized by a dense layer of warm water settled on top of colder water. This stratification, called a thermocline, keeps oxygen from filtering through the water column--resulting in massive areas of oceans devoid of marine life. The Gulf of Mexico has been experiencing an enormous dead zone every year, exacerbated by runoff from fertilizers and animal waste in the Mississippi and Atchafalaya River Basins. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, however, scientists found dissolved oxygen in areas that had none the preceding week. Coincidence? As Chris's post hints, the winds of strong hurricanes create gigantic waves and help mix surface waters downwards while bringing colder nutrient rich waters upward (similar to a natural process called upwelling). So it's possible that Hurricane Dean has helped get rid of stratification, meaning that dissolved oxygen will be redistributed throughout the water column from top to bottom. Whether this helps out the Gulf, of course, will depend upon how much of the cold wake lingers in the Caribbean, rather than extending further northward.

    3 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In