WASHINGTON (Reuters) - "Dead zones" in coastal waters -- regions of ocean floor so deprived of oxygen that most marine life cannot survive -- are spreading worldwide at an alarming pace, scientists said on Thursday.
Driving the trend are nitrogen and phosphorous from chemical agricultural fertilizers that reach coastal waters after flowing off farm fields and into streams and rivers, according to the study published in the journal Science.
Nitrogen compounds from burning fossils fuels, particularly from power plants and cars, also are settling back to the ground and eventually wash into coastal waters, they said.
This decade alone, the number of coastal dead zones has risen by about a third to 405
worldwide, with clusters on the coasts of the United States and Europe. Combined, they take up an area of at least 95,000 square miles.
[Read the rest over at Reuters]