The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just released a report that contains even more bad news for the Gulf of Mexico. This year's Gulf Dead Zone will be unusually large -- and that's without accounting for any impact from the ongoing oil spill.
The Dead Zone refers to an annual oxygen-depleting algae bloom in the waters off the Gulf Coast. Krista Hozyash recently described its origin and impact in detail for Grist's series on nitrogen, and Grist's Tom Philpott summarized its cause in a post from the early days of the spill:
According to NOAA, the average size of the dead zone over the last five years has been about 6,000 square miles. Current models predict something between 6,500 and 7,800 square miles which, as the report observes, is "an area roughly the size of Lake Ontario."