the Dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico -a very low oxygen area To support marine life – suffers a worrying expansion: It has grown nearly three times this year Compared to 2020, according to data from researchers in the United States.
Scientists supported by National Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA for its English acronym), I marked that area in front of coasts of louisiana and texas It covers about 16,405 square kilometers (6,334 square miles), the agency said in a statement over the weekend.
In the past five years, the Average size of hypoxic zone, or low oxygen, was 13,934 square kilometers (5,380 square miles). This area is 2.8 times larger than the target set by the Federal Task Force to reduce the five-year average to 4,921 square kilometers (1,900 sq mi) or less by 2035.
Because measurements from year to year can vary greatly – the size of the area this year Three times higher than in 2020-, the NOAA It states that the multi-year average “embodies the truly dynamic nature of the region”.
The area measured this summer was larger than the average projected by the agency in June based on nitrogen and phosphorous runoff data from the Mississippi River.
river drainage in The Gulf Of Mexico It was higher than normal for three weeks before the one-week study began on July 25. This was done by scientists from Louisiana State University and the Maritime Consortium of Louisiana Universities.
“The distribution of dissolved oxygen in water in small amounts was unusual this summer,” said lead researcher Nancy Rabali. “Low oxygen conditions occurred in waters very close to shore and many observations showed an almost complete lack of oxygen.”
Human activities in urban and agricultural areas throughout the Mississippi River Basin are the main cause of the annual “dead zone”. An excess of nutrients flows into the Gulf of Mexico and stimulates the overgrowth of algae that dies and decomposes. Algae deplete oxygen as they sink to the bottom.
the NOAA He highlighted measures to reduce fertilizer run-off and other pollutants that contribute to the hypoxic zone. Radhika Fox, deputy director of water at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said climate change must also be taken into account to make progress.
“This year we have seen time and time again the profound impact of climate change on our communities, from historic droughts in the West to flood events,” Fox said. Climate is directly related to water, including the flow of nutrient pollution into the Gulf of Mexico.”
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