dead zone

May 18, 2011

Mississippi flooding could worsen "dead zone"

Nancy Rabalais

photo: NASA

Fishers hoping to recover from the Gulf oil spill could be hurt by a larger "dead zone" this year, Nancy Rabalais (1999) told a news publication in Lafourche Parish. Mississippi River flooding could worsen the annual dead zone, a lifeless area of low oxygen cause by algal blooms from fertilizer and other chemical runoff.

August 6, 2010

Cleaning up the Gulf oil spill

Felicia Coleman, Nancy Rabalais, Christopher Reddy, Denise Reed

photo: Jordan Macha, Sierra Club

As containment of the Gulf oil spill progressed, scientists looked at its aftermath amidst the Gulf's other problems. Evaporation is cleaning up the oil more than anything else, but since different compounds evaporate at different speeds, the makeup of the oil is ever-changing, Chris Reddy (2006) said. When flying over the marshes of Louisiana recently, Denise Reed (2006) saw mostly green, which she saw as a sign of the wetlands' resilience. Felicia Coleman (2000) compared the media outcry over the oil spill to the silence on the Gulf's many other persistent problems. The annual low-oxygen "dead zone" caused by overuse of fertilizers reached the size of Massachusetts this year, according to a report by Nancy Rabalais (1999).

July 8, 2010

Scientists ponder long-term effects of Gulf oil spill

Jeffrey Chanton, Simon Donner, Nancy Rabalais

photo: NOAA

Several Leopold Leadership Fellows working on marine issues are thinking about long-term effects of the Gulf oil spill. Jeff Chanton (2005) notes that methane bubbling up from the spill could contribute to climate change. Nancy Rabalais (1999) says the spill could enlarge Gulf dead zones, lifeless areas of low oxygen caused by algal blooms from fertilizer and other chemical runoff from the Mississippi. The oil slick prevents oxygen in the air from entering the water, and bacteria breaking down oil will also use up oxygen. Simon Donner (2009) points out that the fertilizer for planned ethanol production was already projected to worsen dead zones.

March 9, 2010

Saving whales

Christopher Reddy

credit: Evadb, Jiron

What’s the most important urgent problem facing whales? Chris Reddy (2006) offers advice to Paul Watson, whose organization, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, has been waging a direct action campaign against whaling in the Antarctic Ocean.

July 28, 2009

Gulf dead zone shrunken but in severe condition

Nancy Rabalais

Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi outfall.
Source: NASA

The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico covers a smaller area but is far deeper this year than in the past, according to a new report by Nancy Rabalais (1999), who has been studying the problem for years. Rabalais and several other scientists whose work is supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration discussed their findings in a teleconference on July 27 attended by NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco. Agricultural runoff from farms along the Mississippi River remains a major cause. Read recent coverage in Scientific American, the Miami Herald, and Bloomberg.com.