Environmental Issue - the Dead Zone

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Assignment #4: Environmental Issue The Dead Zone By: Joelle Williams The Dead Zone The Dead Zone is an area in the ocean that cannot support life. The natural ocean ecosystem of interdependent living and non-living organisms that balance and stabilize the ecological community is abolished. The dead zone is a low-oxygen area referred to as hypoxic. This means these zones of ocean are depleted of oxygen to the point that it is detrimental to the aquatic life that inhabits it. The dead zone is littered with the carcasses of dead sea animals. There are 405 dead zones reported world-wide. Natural and Human Impact Dead zones can be caused by both natural and human impact on the environment. High levels of chemical nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) cause algae blooms to flourish. After the algae accumulate, it dies, decomposes and depletes the oxygen in the ocean creating a dead zone. Natural elements of climate, weather and change in wind circulation also cause changes in algae growth. In the spring months increased rain, water flow and sunshine increase this algae growth. In the fall tropical storms and hurricanes break up the algae and the cycle repeats again. The largest human cause of dead zones is nutrient run off from abundant use of fertilizers, animal waste and sewage. The runoff is a bi-product of our agribusiness, farming practices and growing population. Before immense land development the wetlands acted as a natural barrier and filter. The runoff would be depleted in the soil by the plants before it could reach the rivers and ocean. Human commercial activity and land development have destroyed the natural shield of the wetlands. The Mississippi River is a channel for 41% of the United States chemical runoff which flows straight into the Gulf of Mexico. In 2010 The Gulf of Mexico was reported to have a dead zone the size of New Jersey and was

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