Dead Zone

LSU/LUMCON

This year’s dead zone is the eighth largest on record in the Gulf of Mexico, though it’s size could have been impacted by Hurricane Barry last month.

The dead zone is an area of hypoxic, or low-oxygen, conditions that forms at the bottom of the Gulf every year. Fertilizers, which wash off of Midwestern agricultural fields and down the Mississippi River, fuel algae blooms in the Gulf of Mexico. As the algae dies the water loses oxygen, killing fish and other sea creatures.

LUMCON

The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is predicted to be the second biggest in history, according to a new forecast from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON).

The dead zone is mostly caused by agricultural run-off from the Mississippi River; nutrients from fertilizers like nitrogen and phosphorus enter the water, causing algae to bloom once it slows and heats up in the Gulf of Mexico. When the algae decays, it uses up oxygen in the water which can stress and kill some sea creatures. The condition of reduced oxygen is known as hypoxia.

Travis Lux / WWNO

The Mississippi River has been at flood stage for months. Levees and spillways keep most homes and businesses safe and dry from the flood waters, but the high water still creates headaches for levee districts and industries like oil and gas, and fisheries.

This week on the Coastal News Roundup, WWNO coastal reporter Travis Lux went to find out how the river creates problems we can’t always see. WWNO’s Tegan Wendland got the details.

LSU/LUMCON

The dead zone is an area in the Gulf of Mexico where the oxygen is so low that fish and shrimp can’t live.

 

Scientists say this year’s dead zone is 8,776 square miles now -- about the size of New Jersey. Over the last five years it’s averaged 5,543 square miles.

 

It’s caused largely by agricultural runoff from the Midwest, and brought downstream by the Mississippi River. That runoff is high in nitrates, from fertilizer, which causes algae to bloom. When the algae dies, it sucks oxygen out of the water.

Natural Resources Defense Council

The forecast for this year’s dead zone off the Louisiana coast is about the size of Connecticut. The lead scientist tracking the annual formation says that is much too big.

Researchers are expecting the low-oxygen “dead zone” that forms every year in the Gulf of Mexico to remain about the same size.

The Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium forecast calls for the dead zone to be about 5,700 square miles.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the dead zone could be smaller — possibly as low as 4,600 square miles this summer.

Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium

The low-oxygen dead zone this summer in the Gulf of Mexico is smaller than scientists had predicted. But the area where marine life can’t live is still about the size of Connecticut.

Nancy Rabalais of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium — called LUMCON — expected the gulf dead zone to be bigger, based on the level of nutrients measured in the Mississippi River.

Those nutrients come from fertilizer, used on crops upriver, that is carried downstream.

But choppy weather churned up the water, so the dead zone wasn’t as big as feared.

This year's dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico may be as large as the state of New Jersey, National Geographic is reporting. The publication quotes scientists who say that would make it the biggest dead zone ever recorded.

Scientists from Louisiana and Michigan have very different predictions for the size of this year's "dead zone" of low-oxygen in the Gulf of Mexico. It will be the smallest in nearly a quarter century at just under 1,200 square miles — or five times that size. 

Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation

Scientists have confirmed a “dead zone,’ or low-oxygen water levels, in the Chandeleur Sound. Eileen Fleming reports the area is four times larger than the region found in 2010.