Tuesday, July 25, 2006
No shrimp, Sherlock
The size just mapped was smaller than predicted using a model developed by Dr. Eugene Turner of Louisiana State University, an investigator of the research team, that relates the size with the May nitrate load along with a term that adds the influence of the previous year's nitrate load. Turner predicted a size of 6,200 square miles, which was larger than the measured size of 4,800 square miles. The smaller than predicted size was expected because of a tropical storm and hurricane that affected the area between the Mississippi and the Atchafalaya rivers earlier in July. While the two-layered system that supports the formation of hypoxia was redeveloping at the time of the mapping cruise, the oxygen level beneath that layer had not fallen below 2 ppm again. "I would predict that a somewhat larger area of hypoxia would have been mapped if the cruise had been conducted one week later than planned and therefore closer to the size modeled by Turner," said Rabalais. Confirmation of this prediction may come from the oxygen measurements taken by the NMFS groundfish survey that finished their work on the southeast Louisiana coast on July 27 - August 31.
Ah, yes. The Mississippi watershed. The nation's sewer -- or at least it's been treated as such, especially in the "right to pollute" states. One of the reasons that huge chunks of Louisiana are wastelands now. (The other big reason, of course, is the location of so many petrochemical and other plants in the state, in a section of the state now known as "Cancer Alley".)
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