THEGREENGROK

An Update on the Gulf Dead Zone


by Bill Chameides | August 7th, 2008
posted by Erica Rowell (Editor)

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As noted in an earlier post, while the 2008 Gulf dead zone was predicted to be record-setting, there was a chance for it to escape that dubious distinction; the region needed a major tropical storm. By stirring the Gulf waters off the Louisiana coast, such a storm would mix oxygen-rich waters into the hypoxic area thus reducing its size. As it turns out, the region got lucky, so to speak.

Hurricane Dolly made landfall at a very fortuitous time and location. Now, scientists no longer predict a record for this summer’s Gulf dead zone.

But make no mistake: the dead zone is still large — 8,000 square miles — and we can’t rely on random hurricanes to fix the problem. (Dead zones are caused by pollution of ground and surface waters — primarily from fertilizers that wash into nearby rivers and streams, then out to sea. The pollution wreaks havoc on marine life by depleting large areas of oxygen. Marine life either suffocates and dies or escapes.)

A true fix would address the pollution from farmlands along the vast Mississippi basin.

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