Published: Wed, June 12, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Near-record ‘dead zone’ predicted in Gulf of Mexico

Near-record ‘dead zone’ predicted in Gulf of Mexico

Scientists came to the conclusion that the "lifeless" area of the Gulf of Mexico continues to expand.

According to the scientists, they expect the zone to be around 7,829 square miles, which is roughly the size of MA. The moderate Gulf slow zone is ready 5,309 square miles; the chronicle is 8,776 square miles region in 2017.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its forecast for the year's hypoxic zone on Monday.

"While this year's zone will be larger than usual because of the flooding, the long-term trend is still not changing", explained University of MI aquatic ecologist Don Scavia, who contributed to NOAA's analysis. 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.

Dead zones occur across the globe, though the annual one in the gulf is considered among the world's biggest.

"These numbers are far above the five-year average of about 6,000 square miles", the Washington Post reported.

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The 2019 forecast is based on U.S. Geological Survey river flow and nutrient data.

The nutrients feed algae, which die and then decompose on the sea floor, using up oxygen from the bottom up in an area along the coasts of Louisiana and Texas.

It will be measured during an annual July cruise by Nancy Rabalais of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, who has been measuring the zone since 1985. Heavy rains fueled end to-chronicle flooding along the Mississippi River for the length of the spring.

Scavia is a member of NOAA-funded teams that produce annual forecasts for the Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay and Lake Erie.

Low oxygen conditions began to appear 50 years ago when agricultural practices intensified in the Midwest, and there have been no reductions in the nitrate load from the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico in recent decades. "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".

This loss of oxygen in the water can cause the loss of fish habitat or force them to move to other areas to survive. The partnership included teams of researchers at U-M, Louisiana State University, William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science, North Carolina State University, Dalhousie University and the USGS.

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