Scientists have decided about this year 16,405 square kilometers (6,334 square miles), a small area Larger than the state of Connecticut.
The average Gulf dead zone is approximately 13,934 square kilometers (5,380 square miles), based on data from the past five years.
As the area this year is three times larger than 2020 and significantly different from other years, the NOAA says the multi-year average “captures the real dynamics of the region.”
“It is unusual to distribute low levels of dissolved oxygen in water this summer,” said lead researcher Nancy Raphael. “Low oxygen levels occurred in water very close to shore and many observations showed almost no oxygen deficiency.”
What are the causes?
Also known as hypoxia, this phenomenon is caused by the excretion of nutrients, mainly due to excessive use of fertilizers. Agricultural fields In the spring it was released into the sea via its delta in Louisiana across the Mississippi River.
Nutrients such as nitrogen can fuel fuel Algae growthAnd when the algae die, their decomposition absorbs oxygen faster than it comes down from the surface. As a result, fish, shrimp and crabs suffocate and die.
Human activities in urban and agricultural areas across the Mississippi River Basin are a major cause of the annual “dead zone.” Excess nutrients flow into the Gulf of Mexico and stimulate overgrowth of algae, which die and decompose. The algae will deplete the oxygen and they will sink to the bottom.
River discharge in the Gulf of Mexico was higher than normal three weeks before the start of a weekly survey on July 25th. This was done by marine consortium scientists from Louisiana State University and the University of Louisiana.
The NOAA He highlighted measures to reduce the flow of fertilizers and other pollutants that contribute to the hypoxic zone. Radhika Fox, deputy administrator for water at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said climate change should also be taken into account.
“This year climate change will have a profound impact on our communities, from a historic drought in the West to flood events,” Fox said. Towards the Gulf of Mexico “
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