Largest Dead Zone on Record?

Image: SERC-Carleton

The annual Gulf Dead Zone prediction is out, and it does not look good for Gulf marine life.

Yesterday, researchers announced that this year’s Dead Zone – an area at the mouth of the Mississippi River with such low amounts of oxygen that most sea life must swim away or suffocate – has the potential to be twice the average size:  10,089 square miles, or the size of Vermont.

If that happens, it will be the largest Dead Zone on record.

The gloomy prediction is further evidence that nitrogen and phosphorus pollution along the Mississippi River Basin from Minnesota to the Gulf is not being adequately controlled by the states, where US EPA insists the problem be handled.

“This prediction is disheartening, to say the least, especially in the light of the Trump Administration’s attempts to dismantle our environmental laws,” said Matt Rota, Senior Policy Director at Gulf Restoration Network.

Over 15 years ago, US EPA created the Hypoxia Task Force with a goal of reducing the size of the Gulf Dead Zone to 2,000 square miles by 2015. No measurable progress has been shown, and now the goal has been pushed to 2035.

The LUMCON/LSU press release can be accessed here.

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