Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

2011 Gulf of Mexico 'dead zone' could be biggest ever

Date:
July 19, 2011
Source:
Texas A&M University
Summary:
Researchers have examined the scope and size of this year's "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico and have measured it currently to be about 3,300 square miles, or roughly the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, but some researchers anticipate it becoming much larger.

Researchers from Texas A&M University have returned from a trip to examine the scope and size of this year's "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico and have measured it currently to be about 3,300 square miles, or roughly the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, but some researchers anticipate it becoming much larger.
Credit: Image courtesy of Texas A&M University

Researchers from Texas A&M University have returned from a trip to examine the scope and size of this year's "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico and have measured it currently to be about 3,300 square miles, or roughly the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, but some researchers anticipate it becoming much larger.

Oceanography professor Steve DiMarco, one of the country's leading authorities on the dead zone, says the team of researchers journeyed more than 1,400 miles throughout the Gulf over a five-day period, the first ever focusing on the month of June.

DiMarco says the size of the dead zone off coastal Louisiana has been routinely monitored for about 25 years. Previous research has also shown that nitrogen levels in the Gulf related to human activities have tripled over the past 50 years. During the past five years, the dead zone has averaged about 5,800 square miles and has been predicted to exceed 9,400 square miles this year, which would make it one of the largest ever recorded, according to the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium.

Hypoxia occurs when oxygen levels in seawater drop to dangerously low levels, and severe hypoxia can potentially result in fish kills and harm marine life, thereby creating a "dead zone" of life in that particular area.

Because of record amounts of water flowing from the Mississippi River into the Gulf, there is keen interest in the dead zone areas this year, DiMarco explains, adding that the size of this year's dead zone could still change because large amounts of water are still flowing into the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River.

DiMarco says he will examine the area again on Aug. 8 and will visit many of the same locations for additional data. In all, 10 researchers, including six graduate students, helped to collect data on the latest cruise, which was funded by the NOAA Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research and Texas Sea Grant.

"This was the first-ever research cruise conducted to specifically target the size of hypoxia in the month of June," DiMarco says. "We found three distinct hypoxic areas. One was near the Barataria and Terrebonne region off the Louisiana coast, the second was south of Marsh Island (also Louisiana) and the third was off the Galveston coast. We found no hypoxia in the 10 stations we visited east of the Mississippi delta."

"The largest areas of hypoxia are still around the Louisiana coast, where you would expect them because of the huge amounts of fresh water still coming down from the Mississippi River," he adds. "The hypoxic area extends about 50 miles off the coast. The farther you go west toward Texas, there is still hypoxia, but less severe. However, we did see noticeable hypoxia near the Galveston area."

The Mississippi is the largest river in the United States, draining 40 percent of the land area of the country. It also accounts for almost 90 percent of the freshwater runoff into the Gulf of Mexico.

Participating at sea with DiMarco was Research Scientist Matt Howard. Shore-based participants from the oceanography department were professors Lisa Campbell and Wilf Gardner, as well as Antonietta Quigg from Texas A&M University-Galveston.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas A&M University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Texas A&M University. "2011 Gulf of Mexico 'dead zone' could be biggest ever." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110718141618.htm>.
Texas A&M University. (2011, July 19). 2011 Gulf of Mexico 'dead zone' could be biggest ever. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110718141618.htm
Texas A&M University. "2011 Gulf of Mexico 'dead zone' could be biggest ever." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110718141618.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Driving Sports (July 24, 2014) Subaru Rally Team USA drivers David Higgins and Travis Pastrana face off against a global contingent of racers at the annual Mt. Washington Hillclimb in New Hampshire. Includes exclusive in-car footage from Higgins' record attempt. Video provided by Driving Sports
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins