2019 Dead Zones at Record Size & Expanding


Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 14 June 2019

 

OCEANS, WATER, & FISH

Dead Zones at Record Size & Expanding

1>Gulf Mexico --&-- 2>Chesapeake Bay

 

1>Gulf Mexico

2019 'Dead Zone' may be the Second Largest on Record,
Louisiana State University, June 10, 2019.

Main Points

Second Biggest on Record
8,717-square-miles
"A recent forecast of the size of the "Dead Zone" in the northern Gulf of Mexico for late July 2019 is that it will cover 8,717-square-miles of the bottom of the continental shelf off Louisiana and Texas. The unusually high Mississippi River discharge in May controls the size of this zone, which will likely be the second largest zone since systematic measurements began in 1985."

Hypoxic
"The water mass with oxygen concentrations less than 2 parts per million forms in bottom waters each year primarily as a result of nitrogen and phosphorus loading from the Mississippi River watershed, which fertilizes the Gulf of Mexico's surface waters to create excessive amounts of algal biomass."

Irresponsible Growth
"Low oxygen conditions started to appear 50 years ago when agricultural practices intensified in the Midwest. No reductions in the nitrate loading from the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico have occurred in the last few decades."

Size
"The predicted hypoxic area is about the size of the land area of New Hampshire and about 4.5 times the size of the Hypoxia Action Plan goal."

 

Throwback

Record Dead Zone of 2007
8,500 Square Miles

Related

2018: Green Water Widespread Across United States & Whole Northern Hemisphere

 

2>Chesapeake Bay

Large Summer 'Dead Zone' Forecast for Chesapeake Bay after Wet Winter and Spring,
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, June 12, 2019.

Main Points

Dead Zone
4th Place
"This year's forecast is for the fourth largest dead zone in the past 20 years.."

Size
2.1 cubic miles
"This summer's Chesapeake Bay hypoxic or "dead zone," an area of low oxygen that can kill fish and other aquatic life, is expected to be about 2.1 cubic miles, while the volume of water with no oxygen is predicted to be between 0.49 and 0.63 cubic miles during early and late summer."

Average & Duration
"Measurements of the Chesapeake Bay's dead zone go back to 1950, and the 30-year mean maximum dead zone volume is 1.74 cubic miles."

What
"The bay's hypoxic (low oxygen) and anoxic (no oxygen) zones are caused by excess nutrient pollution, primarily from agriculture and wastewater. The excess nutrients stimulate an overgrowth of algae, which then sinks and decomposes in the water. The resulting low oxygen levels are insufficient to support most marine life and habitats in near-bottom waters, threatening the bay's crabs, oysters and other fisheries."

This Wet Year
"...not surprising considering the near-record high flows in 2018 that have continued into 2019."

"This year, exceptionally high spring rainfall and streamflow is transporting nitrogen to tidal waters in amounts above the long-term average, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which provides the nitrogen-loading estimates used to generate the annual hypoxia forecast."

Increased Spring Nitrogen Loading by Rivers feeding Chesapeake Bay

 

Other Small Body Hypoxic Events

Lake Tahoe

 

Bigger Hypoxic Events

Climate Change News, 2018, Ocean Effects of Warming Times: Ocean Oxygen Disappearing

2018 Ocean Research: O2 Distribution Changing in World’s Oceans

 

 

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dead zone, Chesapeake Bay, Gulf Mexico, 2019, research, reports, anticipate, increases, larger

 

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