RESTON, Va. -- Nutrients from the Mississippi River Basin are believed to be responsible, at least in part, for the large hypoxic zone that develops on the Louisiana-Texas shelf in the Gulf of Mexico each summer, according to Don Goolsby, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver, Colo. Goolsby described the hypoxic zone at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Anaheim, Calif.
The hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico, also known as the "dead zone," has become known as one of the largest environmental issues of this decade. An area of 6,100 square miles or larger lacks enough oxygen to support most marine life for part of the year, Goolsby said. This zone which may contain very low levels of oxygen, forms each summer and has been linked to nutrients, especially nitrogen, flowing into the Gulf from the Mississippi River.
Goolsby discussed the loads of nitrogen transported from the Mississippi River basin to the Gulf of Mexico, where these loads originate within the basin, and the human activities that contribute to the loads.
"Ultimately, this information should be useful in developing new policies and voluntary actions to reduce nitrogen loading to the Gulf of Mexico," Goolsby said.
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