NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Scientists say this year’s Gulf of Mexico “dead zone” is surprisingly small but the oxygen-depleted water rose higher toward the surface than usual.
Tuesday’s report describes the fourth-smallest area ever measured where water at and above the sea floor off Louisiana holds too little oxygen to support marine life.
Nancy Rabalais (RAB-uh-lay), with the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, began annual measurements in 1985. She says it’s the world’s second-largest human-caused dead zone, behind only the Baltic Sea.
Scientists had predicted an average-sized area this year.
Rabalais says winds over shallow areas probably mixed oxygen into water, while other winds squeezed oxygen-poor water into narrower confines. The dead zone covers about 2,720 square miles (7,040 square kilometers), rising in some areas about two-thirds of the way to the surface.