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Science

Floodwaters to Increase Mexican Gulf Dead Zone

2587341584_72ae4363b3 If you have visited Planet Save for any length of time you will no doubt have seen me talk about the increasing amount of ‘dead zones’ cropping up across our planets watery surface. In particular, the Gulf of Mexico is home to what is believed to be the largest dead zone in the world: an area larger than Rhode Island that is almost totally devoid of oxygen in the water.

This particular dead zone has formed, in part, thanks to farm runoff that has made its way down the Mississippi River, all the way from Iowa and Wisconsin. Chemicals used on the farms are washed in to local waterways, which all eventually end in the Mississippi which thus makes its way down and out past New Orleans in to the Gulf of Mexico.

Subsequently, the increased levels of chemicals in the water have more and more robbed the water of oxygen, making it a deadly place for any creatures or plants.

A new threat has arisen however, a threat that could possibly increase an already far gone situation.

Many of you will already be aware of the great damage done by the floods through the Midwest of America; some of you might even have been directly affected. The tragic loss of lives, the devastating loss of crops and livestock; at some point the negatives pile up too far to care about any more.

But, akin to the Mississippi flood in 1993, these floods are going to cause havoc in the Gulf, with all the excess chemicals washed in to the Mississippi. “It’s going to be a very interesting summer out there just because of this,” said Steven DiMarco, a professor of oceanography at Texas A&M University. “The last time something like this happened, we did see a huge difference” in the size of the dead zone from one year to the next.

So in addition to the continued rise of fertilizer use due to an increased need for ethanol produced by corn, these tragic Midwest floods have added their own weight to a continuing ecological problem.

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Image credit: eagle102.net at Flickr under a Creative Commons license




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