Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Largest Since 2002

Gulf_Main_Web-800x600„This year’s dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico spans 16,760 square kilometers—about the size of Rhode Island and Connecticut combined—making it the largest since 2002, when the Gulf dead zone stretched over 22,000 square kilometres. Heavy June rains contributed to the larger-than-average size, said Nancy Rabalais, executive director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, who leads an annual survey cruise that measures the size and severity of the dead zone. The 2015 dead zone extends more than 2500 square kilometres beyond what scientists forecast in May. The spring estimate fell short because abundant June precipitation in the Mississippi River watershed—mainly in Ohio and northern Mississippi—flushed more nutrients than expected into the river and caused much higher than average discharges during June and July from the river into the Gulf, Rabalais said.“

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