1. SQU and Petrofac sign Sponsorship Agreement
  2. Ways to Make Farming More Sustainable
  3. SQU Marks Renaissance Day
  4. Ways to Make Math Fun for Kids
  5. Prerequisites for Significant Learning
  6. Omani Studies Centre Team Visits Brunei
  7. Conference to Address Research Management and Administration
  8. Cooperation Program to Promote Date Palm Sector in Oman
  9. SQU, Orpic Sign LoA for Funding Engineering Design Lab
  10. Dead Zones of the Western Arabian Sea
  11. Conference to Address All Aspects of Unmanned Vehicle Systems
  12. SQU Gets Patent for New Antimicrobial Formula
  13. SQU Council Approves Center for Innovation & Technology Transfer
  14. SQU Signs Cooperation Agreement with Muscat Securities Market
  15. Information Systems Students ‘Capture’ the Cybersecurity Flag
  16. SQU This Week
  17. SQU, Al Buraimi Solar Energy Systems Sign Cooperation Program
  18. SQU, Oman Oil Marketing Company Sign Sponsorship Agreement
  19. “Anwaar Ramadhan” Exhibition Features Pics of the Past
  20. Association of Arab Universities Executive Council Meets at SQU
  21. CAMS Academic’s Book Deals with Food Microbial Analyses
  22. SQU This Week
  23. Forum on Future Media Discusses Media Sector Challenges
  24. SQU This Week
  25. SQU Hosts Pearl Initiative Award Ceremony
  26. Huge Enthusiasm for Blockchain Technology in Oman
  27. First Phase of Solar Parking Shades Opened
  28. MSF Students Visit Oman Aquarium Project
  29. Nursing Students Urge Evidence-based Maternity Care Practice
  30. Project Examines Population Structures of Spiny Lobster along Oman’s Coastline
  31. Workshop Sheds Light on “Integration of Technology into Nursing Education”
  32. New Patent for Invention based on “Therapeutic Composition for Treating Gangrene”
  33. SQU This Week
  34. HMTF Projects 2018 Announced
  35. 18th SQU Day Celebrated with Grandeur
  36. SQU Signs Research Cooperation Program with OAPGRC
  37. SQU Organizes First Aid Workshop for School Children
  38. New Assessment Unit Facility at CPS
  39. Statistics to become Independent Department at SQU
  40. Dr. Mona Al Said Receives Charles University’s Gold Medal
  41. SQU This Week
  42. ELT Conference Addresses Current Perspectives, Trends and Challenges
  43. Workshop Highlights Nutritional Antioxidants Therapy
  44. Academics Co-edit Volume on Cancer Prevention and Treatments
  45. Power Station and Transmission Lab Opened
  46. Conference Focuses on Law, Economic and Social Transformations
  47. SQU Marks Biomedical Laboratory Science Day
  48. SQU, RUDN University to Boost Ties
  49. Commercially Valuable Bioproducts from Waste Paper
  50. Forum Highlights Role of Information Specialists in Smart Society
  51. IS Department Holds Industry Advisory Board Meeting
  52. SQU This Week
  53. Jordanian NDC Delegation visits SQU
  54. The Earthquake Monitoring Center and Seismic Hazard Studies in the Sultanate
  55. Research Workshops and Training Held
  56. The Story of a Lighting Revolution
  57. Patent for “Method of Making an Ajwa Date-Based Treatment for Snake Envenomation”
  58. SQU Holds the First Students’ Conference for Scientific Research
  59. Engineering Students Projects on Display
  60. SQU Hosts National Conference on Civil & Architectural Engineering
  61. SQU, Ministry Mark World Water Day 2018
  62. Forum Deliberates Business Intelligence and Big Data Analysis
  63. SQU-Ministry of Higher Education Joint Committee Meets
  64. Forum Addresses Soil System as Foundation of Food Security
  65. Framework for Making Oman an Innovation Hub
  66. CETL Official Opening Held
  67. SQU, University of Nizwa to Enhance Ties
  68. SQU This Week
  69. SQU Receives Egyptian Minister of Higher Education
  70. SQU Team Wins Robot Championship
  71. Conference Discusses Risk Management Practices
  72. Institutional Accreditation
  73. SQU This Week
  74. SQU Launches its New Media Identity
  75. Neuroprotective Effects of Plant Extracts
  76. Technical Festival Features 20 ICT Projects
  77. ICT Accessibility: Oman Well-positioned to Continue Playing a Leading Role
  78. SQU Team Makes Breakthrough in Breast Cancer Research
  79. Sensor-activated Taps Most Effective for Saving Water
  80. Study Underscores the Need for Stronger School-University Partnerships
  81. Study Identifies Factors Impeding Entrepreneurial Growth in Oman
  82. OCMB Hosts Frontiers in Marine Biotechnology Conference
  83. SQU Council Approves Master’s Program in Psychological Counselling
  84. Nursing Conference Focuses on Technology and Innovation
  85. Microbial Fuel Cells: A Promising Energy Source
  86. Researcher Prepares Database of Aquatic Plants in Wadis
  87. Blended Learning Approach Can Tackle Transitional Academic Challenges
  88. Medical Research Centre to Focus on Themes Relevant to Oman

Oxygen minimum zones (also called as the dead zones or hypoxic zones), have been reported for over 400 geographical regions of the World Ocean and regional seas. The phenomenon is a key stressor of open ocean and coastal ecosystems worldwide. In this regard, hypoxic zones became a serious environmental challenge to fishery management. As one of the most prominent oxygen depletions of the ocean, the Arabian Sea oxygen minimum zone extends from the central part of the basin to the coasts of Oman, Iran, Pakistan and India and makes fisheries vulnerable to the shelf hypoxia. Shelf oxygen depletion causes numerous fish kill incidents along the Omani coast. However, the scenario of long-term changes of the shelf oxygen minimum zones and its impact on fish catches are still poorly investigated.

Dr. Sergey Piontkovski from the Department of Marine Sciences & Fisheries at Sultan Qaboos University acted as the Principal Investigator in a number of research projects, which tackled the issue of physical-biological interactions in the western Arabian Sea including the Omani shelf. Recently, Dr. Piontkovski with the team of technicians from the department and his colleague Dr. Bastien Queste from the University of East Anglia (UK), introduced a cutting edge technology in studies of the Omani shelf – the Sea gliders.

The Sea gliders, which are autonomous robotic systems equipped with numerous sensors allowing recording of physical, chemical, and biological parameters of the water column. These records could be carried out every 6 hours throughout the year. On the way to the surface (from the depth of several hundred meters and back), the sea glider transmits recorded data via satellites and gets a new command- on what to do and where to sail.  Moreover, the research team has complemented the sea glider data on vertical distribution of temperature, salinity, water density, dissolved oxygen concentration, and phytoplankton biomass (based on fluorescence measurements), by sampling on board SQU research vessel “Al-Jamiah” coming from time to time to visit the glider.  Series of sea glider deployment allowed the team to understand important details is seasonal changes of the water column structure over the Omani shelf, in the Muscat region.

Also, Drs. Sergey Piontkovski and Bastien Queste have accomplished the analysis of historical data from 53 International oceanographic expeditions carried out in the western Arabian Sea during the past 50 years. Data were published in a number of high-ranked international journals. The analysis was based on about 30,000 vertical profiles of temperature, salinity, water density and over 2,000 vertical profiles of dissolved oxygen recorded in the depth range from the surface to 300m. Scientists have found out that the thermal stratification of the water column increased and the oxygen minimum zone shoaled from about 150m in the 1960s to 80m in the 2000s. The discovered phenomenon is a warning sign pointing at the fact that the habitat of pelagic fishes is becoming thinner and pushed up to the surface. Perhaps, these oxygen changes were underlain by and related to long-term changes in the intensity of monsoonal winds and thermal structure of the water column.

For example, the summer temperature increase in the western Arabian Sea over the past 50 years exceeded the mean rate reported for tropical latitudes of the world ocean. In being land locked, the Arabian Sea beats world records. The most pronounced changes have been taking place in the upper 30m layer. This means that the thermal stratification of the water column has increased. This could have affected the shoaling of the oxygen minimum. Plus, warming of the water column decreases the solubility of the oxygen coming from the atmosphere.

Large pelagic fishes are active swimmers which require a lot of oxygen for their metabolism, especially in warm tropical waters. The dissolved oxygen concentration below 2 milliliters per liter induces symptoms of stress for many tropical pelagic fishes; therefore, this concentration is believed to be the hypoxic threshold. If this threshold slowly moves up in the water column (over years), fish populations become compressed in the upper layer, which makes them more exposed to fishery.

A vulnerable question to be asked is what will happen to the pelagic ecosystem of Omani shelf in the nearest future, if the current depth of critical oxygen concentration is about 80m and the oxygen minimum zone is still moving up to the surface?  The “uncomfortable shelves” are used to be abandoned, by large pelagic fishes. In the case of Omani shelf this means that declining landings of large pelagic fishes (catches per unit of effort) could have an environmental origin, along with over-fishing.

As far as the upward motion of the critical oxygen concentration is concerned, the trend seems to be dangerous indeed, but it is quite possible that shoaling of the critical concentration depth would be switched to and replaced by a subsequent deepening. In other words, let’s hope that we are dealing with a long-term fluctuation of water mass properties; the event which is quite common in oceanography. Long-term fluctuations of physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the ocean are climate driven phenomena. In the Arabian Sea, they are mediated by a basin scale and global scale atmospheric anomalies, like the Siberian High atmospheric pressure system, the Indian Ocean Dipole, and the El-Ninõ Southern Oscillation.

In turn, the cyclicity of atmospheric processes (like monsoonal winds) could be mediated by extra-terrestrial forces; for instance, lunar tidal actions which have the periodicity of 56, 95, 125 and 1470 years. These cycles were detected within the thickness of sediment core layers extracted from the Oxygen Minimum Zone of the Pakistan shelf.  The clarification of this and the other physical-biological coupling needs funding.

In order to provide further insights into the issue of oxygen minimum zones (which pronouncement is affected by algal blooms), Dr. Sergey Piontkovski and his colleagues from UK and USA came up with the proposal “An Innovative Approach to National Action Plan on Monitoring Algal Blooms”, which was submitted to the Research Council (Oman). The proposed project team consists of specialists from Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), the University of East Anglia (UEA, UK), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, USA).


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