BP oil spill protest in New Orleans, photo: Infrogmation of New Orleans via flickr
It's only been a few days since NOAA-backed scientists forecasting the size of this year's Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone--that area of ocean so deprived of oxygen than little can live in it--mentioned that it wasn't clear yet what effect the BP oil spill would have on its size. The Guardian gives us a glimpse: Two separate scientists studying the issue have found the low-oxygen areas around the Gulf Gusher.Half as Much Methane Spewing Out as Oil
Samantha Joye, from the University of Georgia, says there's up to 50% as much methane and other gases being spewed from the wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon as there is oil. This methane is settling in a 200-meter layer in the water column at a depth of 1,000 to 1,300 meters.
Joye notes that the water in that area can go "completely anoxic" or have extremely low levels of oxygen; she hasn't yet "seen zero-oxygen water but there is certainly enough gas in the water to draw oxygen down to zero."
John Kessler, of Texas A&M; notes similar conditions: "Astonishingly high" methane levels in both surface and deep water within a five mile radius of the gusher. In some locations oxygen levels were depleted 30%.
More on Ocean Dead Zones:
Above Average Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Forecast by NOAA Scientists
Ocean Dead Zones Increasing: 400 Oxygen-Deprived Areas Now Exist
Crop Biodiversity a Cure for Ocean Dead Zones?
Tropical Dead Zones Set to Expand by 50 Percent Under Climate Change