The huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico has concerned scientists for decades. In fact, it has continued to grow over the years and it became larger and larger each time. The record for it was in August 2017 when measurements revealed that the dead zone was larger than ever.
However, it appears that things are even worse. A new study published recently revealed a grim truth: we can’t solve the dead zone problem. The research revealed that it is too late to do anything about it.
How did the dead zone form?
The dead zone was caused by agricultural runoff. Basically, fertilizer runoff reached the Gulf after it was thrown into the waterways. In the Gulf the fertilizer can only fertilize algal blooms, but the effects are not positive.
The nitrogen and the phosphorus in the fertilizer makes the algae flourish and therefore the phytoplankton populations start to grow. As a result of that, when they die, large portions of them sink to the bottom. Down there the creatures that are supposed to break them down will need more oxygen in order to that. Hence, a dead zone is created.
Nothing can be done about it
Until now it was believed that we could reduce the dead zone by dropping the nitrogen levels to zero. However, the latest research revealed that this is not true. It appears that even if humans managed to stop dropping any nitrogen in the Gulf the effects are too serious to go away.
The senior author of the study, Nandita Basu revealed that there is not much we can do about it. However, “we may need to consider more large-scale changes in our crop production system,’ including picking crops that ‘can dramatically reduce the amount of nitrogen running off of fields.”