Gulf of Mexico 'Dead Zone' Smaller than Usual
U.S. scientists have determined that the Gulf of Mexico's annual "dead zone" — an area with low oxygen that can kill fish and marine life — is the fourth smallest since they started mapping the area in 1985.
Scientists supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in a report Tuesday that the area is only about 40 percent the average size predicted earlier this year based on nitrogen and other nutrients flowing down the Mississippi river.
This year's dead zone off Louisiana is about 7,040 square kilometers, rather than the 15,000 square kilometers predicted by the NOAA.
Every year the oxygen depletion begins as snow melt and spring rains bring fresh water to the gulf. Fresh water is lighter than salt water causing two layers to develop. Nitrogen and other nutrients in the fresh water feed a growth spurt of algae and microorganisms at the top.
The microorganisms die and fall to the bottom, where their decay consumes oxygen from the bottom up, creating the dead zone.
Zimbabwe's Ruling Party Wins Majority in Parliament
Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party has won a majority in parliament, according to partial results released Wednesday.
The figures from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission showed ZANU-PF with 109 seats in the 210-seat parliament. The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had 41 seats.The remaining winners were still to be declared.
If ZANU-PF wins at least 30 of the outstanding seats it would have a two-thirds majority that would allow it to make constitutional changes without the votes of other members of parliament.
Ballots are still being counted in the presidential election with results expected to be announced later this week.
The main candidates in that race are ZANU-PF's candidate, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over after longtime leader Robert Mugabe's resignation in November, and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa of MDC.