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And so the irony here is, by having this fertilizer runoff, by having these extra phosphates, this eutrophication, by allowing one thing to grow far more than it would have otherwise, it actually ends up depleting the oxygen that keeps other things from growing. And you pgil they wutrophication typically concentrated where we have more industrialized nations, where we have either more agriculture happening, more industrial agriculture, where they might be using more fertilizer and also where you might have more euttrophication from cities that will have nutrients like the phosphates, that will cause this eutrophication to happen.

So the general idea, we’ve already talked about things like nitrogen and especially phosphorous being a rate-limiting factor for how fast plants can grow. This is another one, and you’ve probably seen this, especially in places that might have sewage runoff.

So you have more phosphates in this, let’s say this is a lake of some kind, so I’ll make it big. Eutrophication and dead zones. It’s really happening because there’s extra nutrients that are allowing these algal blooms or aldral algo, I don’t know, to go out of control and when they decompose the bacteria is sopping up all the oxygen, nothing else can live.

And so you might think that this is a good thing but as we’ll see over the course of this video, this is really about over-nourishment, and over-nourishment to the point that it’s actually causing very bad things to happen in our biosphere.

Let’s say this is a lake of it and we already know that things like phosphates are the rate-limiting factors for plants. And it actually creates what we call dead zones.

And this is a serious problem. You can see the algeal, algal blooms throughout this area. The bacteria will consume all of the oxygen in the water.

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We’ve already talked about the role of oxygen in respiration. We have some pictures here. So right over here is kind of a global picture of dead zones that we have and you see them all through the world. So, right over here is a satellite image of the Caspian Sea and you can see the eutrophication. So this is a serious ecological thing that we have to think about.

And if you were to zoom in, let’s say on the Caspian Sea, eutropuication can see this in more detail, you can visually see this.

Eu referring to well and then trophic or trophia, referring to nourished, or nourishment. Science Biology Ecology Biogeochemical cycles. As the water, either due to rain or irrigation for the crops, as the water flows from those crops into local streams and rivers, it’ll eventually find its way into local streams and rivers.

That helps the plants grow more, which seems like a good thing, but there’s another side effect that happens because of this. But now all of a sudden, if this bacteria, because they’re able to decompose all this algae that is dying, if poigl consuming all of the oxygen, well it depletes the oxygen from the water so that the ocean animals can’t live there anymore. And then we have a Dead Zone. And this is, let’s say that’s a farm, right over there on the land where we’re growing our crops.

But ocean animals need oxygen just like we do, and they get that oxygen, waves can crash and as the waves crash it brings in oxygen from the surface that ocean animals can use in order to live, eutophication order to do their respiration. So what has happened is, so let’s say that this right over here is some land.

And because of that, we humans have added a lot of nitrogen and especially phosphates to plants in order to grow them better, because we pogli the plants to live, to have more food. That could be food for bacteria, and as the bacteria consume it, they also use oxygen.

We talked about that in the nitrogen and the phosphorous cycle videos. But eutropnication since they’re getting all of these phosphates, the algae can go crazy. And eutrophicwtion biggest culprit here tends to be phosphates, the phosphorous in them, and that helps the plants grow more. Now a lot of times when we think of ocean animals, so when we think of, I’ll just draw a little fish here, and so that’s a little fish, we don’t often think about the necessity of oxygen in the water.


Well the issue is what happens once this algae dies. Let me show you some more. On one level, phosphates and fertilizers, nitrates seem like a good thing, it’s helping us grow more crops, but we have to be very careful with where it actually ends up.

And so, you could have photosynthetic organisms like algae in this lake and if it didn’t have the fertilizer you might just have a little bit of the algae.

And you might say okay, well why is this bad? In order to ensure that the crops grow as much as they can, we add fertilizer to it, and a lot of that fertilizer might be nitrogen, it might be phosphorous in the form of phosphates, so we add fertilizer.

The algae can go crazy and grow all over the surface of the lake. If you’re seeing this message, it means we’re having trouble loading external resources on our website.

This is potential eutrophication in this picture.

Eutrophication and dead zones

It could just make the surface of the water a eutrophicatiom bit less clear, a little bit green, but hey, there’s living things here. And so this is where that algae is getting over-nourished.

And it’s not just fertilizers, even some detergents in the past, they have, you have sodium phosphates, which once again, can cause this eutrophication. And this is happening on a macro scale.

Once this algae dies, and it futrophication to float down, that can be food for bacteria. So these are all the crops that we’re growing.

Intro to biogeochemical cycles.

It’s making the water euyrophication clear. To log in and use all the features of Khan Academy, please enable JavaScript in your browser. And it comes from, or it’s derived from, the Greek for well nourished. Video transcript – We’re now going to talk about something called eutrophication.