‘Dead zones’ deplete oxygen in Gulf of Mexico (Infographic)

Dead zone is forecasted to be about 5,364 square miles

Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a forecast Thursday warning of an average oxygen-depleted “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico this summer.

The dead zone is forecasted to be about 5,364 square miles, NOAA said in a news release. 

A federal-state task force — the Interagency Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force— has set a long-term goal of reducing the dead zone to 1,900 square miles, which is about 35% of the current average.

The Gulf dead zone is largely created by urban and agricultural runoff and discharges of nitrogen and phosphorus to the Mississippi River. In the Gulf of Mexico, the nutrients feed an overgrowth of algae, which die and sink to the bottom, using up oxygen from the ocean floor.

The dead zone that stretches along most of Louisiana’s coast and into Texas waters is the second largest human-caused dead zone, University of Louisiana scientists Nancy Rabalais and Eugene Turner wrote.

 

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