Fire Earth

Earth is fighting to stay alive. Mass dieoffs, triggered by anthropogenic assault and fallout of planetary defense systems offsetting the impact, could begin anytime!

Posts Tagged ‘dead zone’

‘Dead Zone’ in Gulf of Mexico Largest Ever Measured

Posted by feww on August 6, 2017

Gulf of Mexico dead zone measured 22,720 km²

At 22,720 square kilometers (8,776 square miles), this year’s dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is the largest ever measured, according to NOAA.

Image credit: N. Rabalais, LSU/LUMCON)

“Previously the largest Gulf of Mexico dead zone was measured in 2002, encompassing 8,497 square miles. The average size of the dead zone over the past five years has been about 5,806 square miles, three times larger than the Gulf Hypoxia Task Force target of 1,900 square miles.”

This large dead zone size shows that nutrient pollution, primarily from agriculture and developed land runoff in the Mississippi River watershed is continuing to affect the nation’s coastal resources and habitats in the Gulf.

These nutrients stimulate massive algal growth that eventually decomposes, which uses up the oxygen needed to support life in the Gulf. This loss of oxygen can cause the loss of fish habitat or force them to move to other areas to survive, decreased reproductive capabilities in fish species and a reduction in the average size of shrimp caught.

Additional graphics available from:

https://gulfhypoxia.net/

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Methane in Gulf Million Times Above Normal

Posted by feww on June 23, 2010

Methane gas is up to 1 million times higher than the normal level near the Gulf of Mexico oil spill:  U.S. Researchers

Such incredibly high levels of methane could deplete oxygen and create a larger than usual dead zone in Gulf of Mexico.

An oceanography professor at Texas A&M University, who spent ten days researching the water quality near the BP Plc oil spill in the gulf, says methane gas levels in some areas close to the spill source are “astonishingly high,” a report said.

“There is an incredible amount of methane in there,” Kessler said, noting that his team of 12 researchers has found concentrations of methane that were 100,000 times higher than normal within an 8 km (5-mile) radius of BP’s ruptured wellhead.

“We saw them approach a million times above background concentrations” in some areas, Kessler said.

“At some locations, we saw depletions of up to 30 percent of oxygen based on its natural concentration in the waters. At other places, we saw no depletion of oxygen in the waters. We need to determine why that is,” he added.

The oxygen depletion are still above a critical level, he said, but the oil still leaking into the Gulf, at about 60,000 barrels per day.

“What is it going to look like two months down the road, six months down the road, two years down the road?”

The researchers believe measuring the methane level could provide a more accurate estimate of the rate of oil spill, and are hoping to have their own estimate soon.

“Give us about a week and we should have some preliminary numbers on that,” he said.

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Posted in Deepwater Horizon Oil Slick, gulf of mexico oil leak, Gulf of Mexico oil Spill, Oceanography, Oil Disasters | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Our Dead Zone Largest Ever This Year!

Posted by feww on July 16, 2008

Congratulations! We Are Breaking Another Record: Our Dead Zone in Gulf of Mexico

Alas, the cost of Midwest flooding, the multibillion-dollar crop losses, doesn’t include the damage to our coastal waters and the marine “manna.”

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Summertime satellite observations of ocean color from MODIS/Aqua show highly turbid waters which may include large blooms of phytoplankton extending from the mouth of the Mississippi River all the way to the Texas coast. When these blooms die and sink to the bottom, bacterial decomposition strips oxygen from the surrounding water, creating an environment very difficult for marine life to survive in. Reds and oranges represent high concentrations of phytoplankton and river sediment. Image taken by NASA and provided courtesy of the NASA Mississippi Dead Zone web site.
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The annual dead zone, which stretches from Texas to Louisiana coasts, could grow to about 9,000 square miles (23,300 km²), nearly double the annual average since 1990 of about 4,800 square miles.

This year’s record dead zone is caused by inordinate demand for corn and soybeans which are used to make ethanol to boost gasoline supplies, and by the earlier Midwest flooding.

The massive increases in the use of fertilizers in Midwestern corn country results in the fertilizer run-off that flow down the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico. Nitrogen and phosphorus, the main constituents of fertilizers, promote excessive growth and decay of algae which cause severe reductions in water quality. The decaying aquatic vegetation or phytoplankton (an algal bloom) sinks to the bottom of the waters in the Gulf and is broken down by bacteria which consume the dissolved oxygen in the water and produce carbon dioxide.

The bacterial respiration process kills fish, clams, crabs, shrimp, zooplankton and all other species that swim in the water or dwell on the bottom of the Gulf [and other water bodies] creating dead zones.


Red algae completely covers this municipal reservoir. Credit: CASF. Photo date: July 14, 2008. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

“We’re planting an awful lot of corn and soybeans,” said Eugene Turner, a scientist at Louisiana State University. “It rinses off easily when there is a rain.”

“Excess nutrients from the Mississippi River watershed during the spring are the primary human-influenced factor behind the expansion of the dead zone,” said Rob Magnien, director of the NOAA Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research.

One-third of this year’s U.S. corn crop, or 4 billion bushels, will go to make the alternate fuel ethanol, the U.S. government has projected, compared to 3 billion bushels of the 2007 crop. Reuters reported.

Related News Links:

Gulf of Mexico “dead zone” to hit record size: NOAA

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Posted in Climate Change, energy, environment, food, Global Warming, health, politics, Tourism, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »