At least one spot in America isn’t suffering from the drought. Much of the Gulf of Mexico is continuing to stay nearly dead zone free, meaning more habitat for wildlife. A Texas A&M research vessel took a 1,200 mile cruise searching for areas of the ocean with very low oxygen levels, or hypoxia.
“We had to really hunt to find any hypoxia at all and Texas had none,” Texas A&M oceanographer Steve DiMarco told the Underwater Times. “The most severe hypoxia levels were found near Terrabonne Bay and Barataria Bay off the coast of southeast Louisiana.
“In all, we found about 1,580 square miles (4092 sq. km) of hypoxia compared to about 3,400 square miles (8805 sq. km) in August 2011,” DiMarco said. “What has happened is that the drought has caused very little fresh-water runoff and nutrient load into the Gulf, and that means a smaller region for marine life to be impacted.”
The dead zone seems to be continuously shrinking this summer. A study by NOAA found that the dead zone was 2,889 square miles (7482 square km) earlier this year.
“But the situation could certainly change by next spring,” DiMarco said. “The changes we see year to year are extreme. For example, last year, record flooding of the Mississippi River and westerly winds in the Gulf led to a much larger hypoxic area, particularly earlier in the summer. We’ll just have to wait and see what kind of rainfall is in store for the Midwest over the next 8-10 months.”
The Gulf of Mexico (Chad Teer, Wikimedia Commons)