2019 “Dead Zone” in Gulf of Mexico may be the second largest on record

❝ A recent forecast of the size of the “Dead Zone” in the northern Gulf of Mexico for late July 2019 is that it will cover 8,717-square-miles of the bottom of the continental shelf off Louisiana and Texas. The unusually high Mississippi River discharge in May controls the size of this zone, which will likely be the second largest zone since systematic measurements began in 1985. The water mass with oxygen concentrations less than 2 parts per million forms in bottom waters each year primarily as a result of nitrogen and phosphorus loading from the Mississippi River watershed, which fertilizes the Gulf of Mexico’s surface waters to create excessive amounts of algal biomass. The decomposition of this plant material in the bottom layer leads to oxygen loss…

❝ The low oxygen conditions in the gulf’s most productive waters stresses organisms and may even cause their death, threatening living resources, including fish, shrimp and crabs caught there. Low oxygen conditions started to appear 50 years ago when agricultural practices intensified in the Midwest. No reductions in the nitrate loading from the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico have occurred in the last few decades.

Cows and soybeans continue to be more important than shrimp or fish.

Or clean water.

3 thoughts on “2019 “Dead Zone” in Gulf of Mexico may be the second largest on record

  1. Update says:

    In June, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projected a Massachusetts-sized dead zone would alight upon the Gulf of Mexico, driven by a vast algae bloom fed by fertilizer runoff from the upper Midwest. As the bloom decays, it sucks oxygen out of the water. As a result, as NOAA puts it, “habitats that would normally be teeming with life become, essentially, biological deserts.”
    And on Thursday, NOAA predicted that Lake Erie, which provides drinking water to 11 million people, will also experience a massive harmful algae bloom, starting in late July. The bloom is fed largely by phosphorus runoff in the Maumee River basin in Ohio, where the land is dominated by corn and soybean farms as well as massive indoor hog farms. Phosphorus is a key nutrient for plant growth, and farmers apply it to fields in the form of fertilizer (which comes mainly from phosphate mines in Florida) and hog manure. https://grist.org/article/massive-toxic-algae-blooms-predicted-in-lake-erie-and-gulf-of-mexico/

  2. Update says:

    Thanks to Hurricane Barry the 2019 summertime “dead zone” along the Louisiana and Texas coastline covered 6,952 square miles [larger than the state of Hawaii] — the eighth largest in the 33-year history of scientists’ observations, but smaller than initially feared. (New Orleans Advocate Aug 1, 2019) https://www.nola.com/news/article_98aed114-b492-11e9-b48d-2ba5b81fd692.html
    Meanwhile Trump’s EPA Wants to Cut Water Pollution Regulations in the Region https://www.dcreport.org/2019/01/15/for-trumps-epa-5800-square-miles-of-dead-gulf-of-mexico-isnt-enough/

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