Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Aquatic "Dead Zone" in the Gulf of Mexico

Some Background

    The "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico is the biggest dead zone in the United States.  This hypoxic zone is defined as an area with a dissolved oxygen concentration lower than 2 mg of O2 per liter.  The "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico has increased in size throughout the years.  This hypoxic zone, however, has been seen to be more anoxic during different times of the year.  
    One of the biggest contributing factors to these hypoxic zones, is humans.  Humans are responsible for the increased nitrogen as well as phosphorus concentrations in the Mississippi river which runoff into the Gulf of Mexico.  Much of the source comes from fertilizer runoff from a vast range of the United States.  This fertilizer in the waters create algae blooms.  Once the algae die, microbes come in to eat this decaying matter, and use up all the oxygen.  This massive decrease in oxygen then causes other marine organisms to die because they cannot survive these conditions.
    In my presentation, I plan to cover a few areas concerning these "dead zones".  First, I plan to identify some of the specific causes of hypoxia.  Then I intend to focus on the hypoxic conditions in the Gulf of Mexico.  This includes looking at how the hypoxic zone has changed over time, as well as how it changes throughout the year.  I then plan to look at the effect of hypoxia on different types of marine organisms.  To wrap up my presentation, I plan to look at some proposed ideas to help this ongoing problem of hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico.

   Sources that I plan to use include:

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