Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Update

This summers Dead Zone has turned out smaller than predicted.

This summer's Dead Zone has turned out smaller than predicted.

Last month, I wrote about the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone, and NOAA‘s prediction that it would be larger than usual this summer, due to a rainy spring and increased fertilizer use in the Midwest. In situ measurements from a recent cruise, however, have revealed a dead zone that is considerably smaller than the predictions—about 3,000 square miles as opposed to the predicted 7,450-8456 (thats two Rhode Islands instead of one New Jersey). That’s good news, though the dead zone appears to be closer to the surface than usual Typically, the oxygen-depleted waters are only found near the bottom.

It appears that high wind and waves prior to the cruise increased the mixing of oxygen into the Gulf, partly alleviating the effects of fertilizer-driven eutrophication. The full NOAA press release may be found here.

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