A near record-sized "dead zone" of oxygen-starved water could form in the Gulf of Mexico this summer, threatening its huge stocks of marine life, researchers said.
A rush of spring rain feeding into the MS is what's expected to push 2019's zone to a near-record size.
This nutrient pollution, mainly from agriculture and developed land runoff in the Mississippi River watershed, is affecting coastal resources and habitats in the Gulf by stimulating algal growth.
This increased rainfall leads to high river flows carrying large amounts of fertilizer and other nutrients downriver, NOAA said. NOAA calculated the record-setting 2017 dead zone reached an area of 8,776 square miles, while the five-year average is 5,770 square miles.
NOAA scientists are forecasting this year's Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" - an area of low to no oxygen that can kill fish - to be roughly the size of MA.
Scientists had said earlier that widespread flooding made a large dead zone likely this year.
So, until the water stirs up and the dead zone goes away later in the year, then perhaps this will mean an economic boon to our local seafood economy. The algae die, sink, decompose, and deplete the water of oxygen, which many marine creatures require for survival.
We need to create and use more ecologically friendly fertilizers so that when this flooding happens, it doesn't take it to the Gulf to create these dead zones in the first place.
The area covered by this summer's dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico will be roughly the size of New Hampshire, LSU researchers predict.
A Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force has been monitoring the problem and has set goals to reduce run-off.
While nutrient inputs to the Gulf of Mexico vary from year to year because of natural swings in precipitation and discharge, USGS also tracks longer-term gradual changes in nitrate and phosphorus loading into the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River.
This map shows how pollution from cities and farms flows down into the Gulf of Mexico.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 31 states and two Canadian provinces drain into the Mississippi River, totaling 41 percent of the contiguous United States and 15 percent of North America.
It will be measured during an annual July cruise by Nancy Rabalais of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium.
The NOAA forecast integrates the results of these multiple independent models into a separate average forecast and is released in coordination with these external groups, some of which are also developing independent forecasts.