Near-Record Dead Zone Predicted This Year

Eloise Marshall
June 12, 2019

A near record-sized "dead zone" of oxygen-starved water could form in the Gulf of Mexico this summer, threatening its huge stocks of marine life, researchers said.

Scientists estimate it could cover 7,829 square miles (20,277 square kilometers), roughly the size of the state of MA or the country of Slovenia.

The file express in 2017 is 8,776 sq. miles (22,700 sq. kilometers), somewhat smaller than Turkey.

US scientists on Monday warned that because of runoff from human activities-such as urbanization and agriculture-this summer's "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico is forecast to be one of the worst on record.

One major factor, according to UM, is the abnormally high spring rainfall in parts of the Mississippi River watershed, which led to record-high river flows and large nutrient loading into the Gulf.

Scientists had said earlier that widespread flooding made a large dead zone likely this year. In a research study, Rabalais and her co-author Gene Turner forecast that the Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" will be the second largest on record this year.

The Gulf of Mexico dead zone - one of the largest dead zones in the world - is at the bottom of the body of water.

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The size of the average Gulf dead zone is about 15,000 square kilometers.

Nutrients equivalent to nitrogen waft from North The united states's corn belt thru streams and rivers before ending up in the Gulf. Once the excess nutrients reach the Gulf, they stimulate an overgrowth of algae, which eventually die, then sink and decompose in the water.

Annual forecasts and measurements of the Gulf slow zone started in 1985.

We need to create and use more ecologically friendly fertilizers so that when this flooding happens, it doesn't take it to the Gulf to create these dead zones in the first place. "This year's historic and sustained river flows will test the accuracy of these models in extreme conditions, which are likely to occur more frequently in the future, according to the latest National Climate Assessment". In the past May, discharge in the MS and Atchafalaya rivers was about 67 percent above the long-term average between 1980 and 2018, according to USGS.

Those fertilizers contain nitrates and phosphorous, which go into the Mississippi River water and empties into the Gulf.

"The assessment predicts an increase in the frequency of very heavy precipitation events in the Midwest, Great Plains, and Southeast regions, which would impact nutrient input to the northern Gulf of Mexico and the size of the hypoxic zone".

The area could spread over 8,700 square miles (22,500 square km), scientists at Louisiana State University said on Monday - about the size of the state of MA, and five times the average.

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