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Posts tagged Gulf of Mexico

Mexico Still Enveloped in Smoke

16.6N 94.7W

May 10th, 2013 Category: Fires

Mexico – May 9th, 2013

Strong winds continue to blow smoke from wildfires in southern Mexico over much of the country, the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Due to the time of year, the fires were likely set by farmer in order to clear land for planting.

Fires and Smoky Haze by Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico – April 18th, 2013

16.8N 96.3W

April 18th, 2013 Category: Fires, Image of the day

Mexico – April 17th, 2013

Fires burning in Mexico, particularly near the Gulf of Mexico coast and Isthmus of Tehuantepec, create a hazy veil over the region. Upon opening the full image, the exact locations of the fires are marked by colored squares: red indicates high certainty of a fire, orange medium certainty, and yellow low certainty.

Fires East of Mississippi Delta, Southeastern USA – March 29th, 2013

30.2N 85.1W

March 29th, 2013 Category: Fires, Image of the day

USA – March 27th, 2013

Although moderate to heavy rains over the last week greatly improved the drought conditions in the southeastern USA, particularly across Georgia, most of Alabama and South Carolina, and northern and central Florida, many fires can still be seen burning in the region. Here, multiple plumes of smoke blow southwards towards the Gulf of Mexico. Also visible at the lower left is the Mississippi River Delta. Cooling temperatures and more rain are expected to slow the spread of the fires over the weekend.

Isthmus of Tehuantepec Between Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean, Mexico

17.5N 94.5W

March 26th, 2013 Category: Snapshots

Mexico – March 23rd, 2013

The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is an isthmus in Mexico. It represents the shortest distance between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. At its narrowest point, the isthmus is 200 km (120 mi) across from gulf to gulf, or 192 km (119 mi) to the head of Laguna Superior on the Pacific coast. The northern side of the isthmus is swampy and densely covered with jungle.

The Sierra Madre breaks down at this point into a broad, plateau-like ridge. Since Sierra Madre de Oaxaca mountains flatten out to form Chivela Pass before the Sierra Madre de Chiapas mountains resume to the south, geographically the isthmus divides North America from Central America.

Environmental Issues Facing the Laguna Madre, Mexico and USA

25.5N 97.7W

February 28th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Lakes

Mexico – January 26th, 2013

Visible south of the bend in the coastline is the Laguna Madre, located on a coastal plain of the Gulf of Mexico. It is the largest hyper-saline coastal wetland in North America and one of seven in the whole world. It harbours a wealth and diversity of species and ecosystems, due to the fact that the lagoon is located between two biogeographical regions, the Nearctic and the Neotropical regions, with the influence of the Carolinian and the Caribbean marine provinces giving rise to various types of soil, climate and rainfall regimes and relative humidity.

The most important human impacts on this region over the past 30 years have been: water diversion and flood-control projects, brushland clearing, pollution, continued dredging, and pressures from population growth. The lower Laguna Madre, for instance, has lost about 60 square miles of seagrass cover due to reduced water clarity since the 1960s. Extensive agriculture has fragmented and reduced the areas of native terrestrial ecosystems. In addition, the large number of people now living in “colonias” without sewage treatment contributes to the contamination of ground and surface waters and poses a human health problem. This is worsened by untreated wastewater from Mexican municipalities released into the Rio Grande.

Global warming will compound these human pressures on Laguna Madre, in some cases improving, in others cases worsening the situation. For example, if future climate change brings a prolonged and more intense wet season in this region, the reliability of rainfall and soil moisture could improve. In wet periods, the land can retain rainfall and runoff, so wildlife and native plants increase their productivity, and the lagoon’s salinity is moderated.

If rainfall decreases in the future, however, a relatively small reduction in moisture could lead to increased desertification. Moreover, all types of coastal wetlands in Texas would decline with less freshwater delivery to the estuaries, thus worsening wetland losses already occurring. Over the long term, such coastal wetland losses would diminish estuarine-dependent fisheries.

Warmer winters are especially important from an ecological point of view. A northward shift of the freeze line would bring dramatic effects to the Coastal Bend and upper Laguna Madre, allowing southerly plant and animal communities to expand northward and, due to fewer disturbances from frost, mature and develop different ecosystems over time (click here for more information).