Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Goals unlikely to protect Gulf of Mexico shrimp industry


Research from the University of Michigan shows that the current federal plan to reduce the "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico may not be enough to protect the region’s half billion dollar a year shrimp industry.

Researchers from U-M, Louisiana State University, and Limnotech Inc, an Ann Arbor-based firm, used three different models to analyze oxygen depletion and to answer two key questions: Is the expanded dead zone human-caused? Will a proposed goal of 30 percent nitrogen load reduction be sufficient to reduce the zone to below 5,000 square kilometers, as agreed to by federal, state and tribal leaders in 2001?

The hypoxic region is an area where water lacks sufficient oxygen to sustain most marine life, and in the Gulf of Mexico it is caused by excess nitrogen---largely runoff from mid-west agriculture, said Donald Scavia, director of the Michigan Sea Grant College Program and professor in the School of Natural Resources and Environment.

Scavia’s paper, published in the June edition of the journal Estuaries, found that the 30 percent nitrogen load reduction will not likely shrink the dead zone to the desired 5,000 square kilometers. According to the paper, the nitrogen load must be reduced by 40 percent to 45 percent to achieve that reduction in most years.

Comparing the results of the three models also confirmed anecdotal and sparse historic data indicating that large-scale hypoxia did not occur before the mid-1970s and supports the notion that tripling the nitrogen load over the past 50 years has led to the heightened Gulf of Mexico hypoxia problem.

Confidence in the model analysis was bolstered this year as the operational ecological forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, based on Scavia’s model, predicted this summer’s dead zone to be 5,400 square miles. Measurements from the NOAA-supported surveys by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium documented the zone to be 5,800 square miles, or about the size of Connecticut.

Hypoxia occurs when increased nitrogen runoff causes algae blooms, which sink into bottom waters and are decomposed by bacteria, a process that consumes oxygen. The warm fresh water from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers also layer atop the colder salty Gulf waters, preventing atmospheric oxygen from getting to the bottom. As oxygen is consumed faster than it can be supplied, concentrations decrease below the critical 2 mg/l that defines hypoxia and has resulted in collapses of fisheries in other parts of the world. It’s important to reduce the size of the dead zone in the Gulf because the area is important habitat for shrimp and other important fin and shellfish.

Hypoxia and other problems caused by excess nitrogen load are not unique to the Gulf of Mexico. Resent NOAA reports indicate that this problem occurs in more than 50 percent of US estuaries and the United Nations Environment Program has identified nitrogen overload and its contribution to the rapid growth of oxygen-starved zones in some coastal waters as an emerging global issue.

Laura Bailey | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>