"This year's low-oxygen "dead zone" along Louisiana coast covers 5,052 square miles, an area the size of the state of Connecticut but about 800 square miles less than the 2013 dead zone, according to a week-long survey released Monday.
The finding, by a team of scientists led by Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium Director Nancy Rabalais, is within the range estimated in late June by scientists who based their prediction on measurements of the amount of nutrients carried in May by the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers. The dead zone is mostly caused by excessive nitrogen, mainly from Midwest agricultural runoff.
Based on the 2014 results, the five-year average size of the low-oxygen area is 5,543 square miles, which is almost three times larger than the target set by a federal/state Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force in 2001 as part of a national effort to reduce the size of the dead zone. The task force goal of reducing the low oxygen zone to 1,991 square miles, or 5,000 square kilometers, was reconfirmed in 2008, but has never been met."