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Reviving the dead zone of the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Jan14,2024

Oxygen could be injected into bodies of water where it disappears, scientists say.

Reviving the dead zone of the Gulf of St. Lawrence

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The hypoxic zone, or dead zone, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence now reaches 9,000 square kilometers.


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The oxygen created during Green hydrogen production could slow the expansion of the Gulf of St. Lawrence “dead zone,” according to a new study by Canadian scientists.

A dead zone, or hypoxic zone, is created when there is no more oxygen, or not enough, in deep water.

These dead zones — which exist elsewhere in the world, such as the Gulf of Mexico and the Baltic Sea — threaten marine life that requires oxygen and reduces l habitat of species that move, making them more vulnerable to their predators.

In 2003, the dead zone of the Gulf of St. Lawrence was d& #x27;an area of ​​1,300 kilometers. Twenty later, it is 9,000 square kilometers.

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The Gulf of St. Lawrence seen from the North Shore. (Archive photo)

Hydrogen is a technology that is popular as a solution for decarbonizing industries or transport. It is a green alternative when fueled with electricity from 100% renewable sources.

Green hydrogen is made when hydrogen and oxygen in water molecules are separated using an electric current, a process called electrolysis.

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Doug Wallace, a chemical oceanographer at Dalhousie University in Halifax, believes it would be possible to recover this oxygen obtained during the electrolysis of water and inject it into the marine bodies in a state of #x27;hypoxia, these famous dead zones, which appear in particular due to climate change.

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Chemical oceanographer and researcher Doug Wallace is a professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax. (File photo)

The amount of oxygen obtained as a byproduct of the generation of hydrogen by electrolysis of water would be more than sufficient, according to our calculations, to compensate for the annual loss of oxygen which has been occurring for several years, Professor Wallace said.

He proposed this solution in a study carried out with colleagues from Dalhousie and McGill University and published in December 2023.

In October 2021, 130 kilometers off the coast of Stephenville, Newfoundland, scientists injected, 250 meters deep into Cabot Strait, an inert gas moving like dissolved oxygen, in order to follow its trace.

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Justin Trudeau visit a green industries fair August 23, 2022 in Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador. Canada and Germany signed an agreement on hydrogen production during this visit.

This experiment, funded by the Canadian Network for Forecasting, Intervention and Observation of the Marine Environment and the Réseau Québec maritime, allowed researchers to observe how the gas was moved and mixed with waters within a year. They concluded that oxygen injected into the Gulf of St. Lawrence would take 18 to 48 months to reach the dead zones.

It There are still questions to be resolved on the feasibility of such a large-scale process and on the financing of the operation. We will also need to better understand the impacts of this approach on the environment.

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Doug Wallace believes that the Bedford Basin, in Halifax, would be an excellent place to test this method. (Archive photo)

I believe the risks are minimal, but they need to be planned for and studied, notes oceanographer Doug Wallace.

Researchers nevertheless believe that it is a solution to be explored in an attempt to resolve one of the greatest dangers threatening the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Doug Wallace suggests that Bedford Basin in Halifax serve as a testing ground. In recent years, some deep water areas have periodically become hypoxic.

Several aspects, particularly on marine life and the feasibility of different methods of injection, could be tested in a small basin like Bedford, he said.

According to information from < /em>Paul WithersofCBC

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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