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Dead Zone Down After Drought
Early scientific wagers placed the size of this year's Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico somewhere between Rhode Island and Connecticut. But it turns out New England did not hold the answer. Researchers' annual cruise ended up leading to a number closer to the size of French Southern and Antarctic Lands. According to Nancy Rabalais of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, the area of oxygen-starved water off the coast that's caused by fertilizer and other chemicals in Mississippi River runoff is the about 2,900 square miles - the 4th smallest on record since 1985.
The Dead Zone area this year was also well below the five-year average of 5,695 square miles. Spring floods on the Mighty Mississippi brought one of the largest Dead Zones on record last year. But this year the Midwest saw the other extreme: drought. Less runoff gave phytoplankton a chance to stave off the chemicals.
According to Rabalais' findings, the Dead Zone was concentrated in a narrow band close to the Mississippi, then stopped between the mouth of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers. West of the Atchafalaya, there were several more areas of Dead Zone. Usually, the Dead Zone is depicted as one large blob off the Coast.
“The smaller area was expected this July 2012, but the distribution across the shelf differed from any other documented to date,” Rabalais wrote.
Dead Huey Long, Emma Boyce, Ian Hoch, Sarah Esenwein, Ryan Sparks, Will Dilella, Chris Rinaldi, Lianna Patch, Phil Yiannopoulos, Cate Czarnecki, Jonas Griffin, Jennifer Abbot, Mary Kilpatrick, Elaina Patton, Mike Horst, Devin Bambrick, Katherine McGuire, Norris Ortolano, Joe Shriner
Ryan Sparks, Kerem Ozkan
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