Nitrogen Pollution Soaring In Waters Off of China, Study Shows


Levels of nitrogen in the East China Sea, Yellow Sea, and Sea of Japan have risen sharply over the last 30 years because of growing industrial and agricultural pollution, according to a new study in the journal Science.

Analyzing data from the 1980s to the present, Korean researchers found that nitrogen levels had quadrupled in many areas, increasing the threat that these Pacific Ocean waters will suffer from algal blooms and dead zones with low oxygen levels.

Nitrogen pollution was particularly acute in the waters close to China, where nitrogen oxide pollution from coal-burning power plants and nitrogen runoff from fertilizers have soared in recent decades as China’s economy has boomed.

In one area, the Korean researchers measured nitrogen concentrations of 8 micromoles per liter of water — 30 times higher than concentrations found in the Gulf of Mexico, which has experienced massive algal blooms in recent years.

The Korean scientists said they were surprised to see high nitrogen levels in such large, deep bodies of water as the Sea of Japan, adding that their results offered evidence that growing nitrogen pollution is altering the chemical balance of the oceans. Algal blooms have also plagued many inland bodies of water in China.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

About Author

Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

Comments are closed.