The Gulf of Mexico dead zone will be even larger this year than before. A recent forecast indicates that the size of the Dead Zone, located in the northern Gulf of Mexico, at the end of next July will cover 8,717 square miles of the lower part of the continental shelf compared to the American states of Louisiana and Texas.
A recent forecast indicates that the size of the “Dead Zone”, located in the northern Gulf of Mexico, at the end of next July will cover 8,717 square miles (about 14,000 square kilometers) of the lower part of the continental shelf compared to the American states of Louisiana and Texas.
The unusually high discharge of the Mississippi River in May determines the size of this area, which will likely be the second largest since systematic measurements began in 1985, according to data from the Louisiana State University.
The body of water, with oxygen concentrations below 2 parts per million, is formed in the bottom waters each year, mainly as a result of the nitrogen and phosphorus load of the Mississippi River basin, which fertilizes the surface waters of the Gulf of Mexico to create excessive amounts of algae biomass.
The decomposition of this plant material in the lower layer leads to the loss of oxygen, which makes life impossible. These low oxygen conditions in the most productive waters of the Gulf affect the organisms in the area and can even cause their death, thus threatening the living resources, including fish, shrimp and crabs that are caught there.
Low oxygen conditions began to appear 50 years ago when agricultural practices intensified in the Midwest, and there have been no reductions in the nitrate load from the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico in recent decades.