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NASA Photos Show the Drought's Alarming Effect on the Mississippi River

In just a year, the Mississippi went from abnormally high levels to historic lows. That's causing problems.

These images show a stretch of the Mississippi River just south of Memphis, Tennessee. The top one was taken by a NASA satellite on August 8, 2012, and the bottom one by a different NASA satellite on August 14, 2011. See how there are huge patches of light tan along the river in the image from 2012? Those are newly exposed sand bars, the result of record low water levels.

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Flood Water Plus Fertilizer Runoff Creates a “Dead Zone” the Size of New Jersey

The Gulf of Mexico is in for its "largest ever amount of hypoxia." And that's not a good thing.

Natural processes used to occasionally create a "dead zone" of oxygen-poor water grows in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It would happen when nutrients from upstream got washed out to sea, feeding phytoplankton in the area. As that phytoplankton population exploded, and then decomposed, bacteria would absorb the water's oxygen, making it deadly to animals, from crustaceans to fish.

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The Mississippi Flood Could Hit “America's Achilles' Heel”

The Mississippi River flood could breach the Old River Control Structure, an absolutely massive infrastructure project from the 1950s.

Already, the Great Mississippi River Flood of 2011 has caused over $2 billion in damage, and the worst of the threat is still in front of us. Many are expecting that the total cost of flood damages—to crops, infrastructure, property destruction, and loss—to top $4 billion when all is said and done, which would make it anywhere from the fifth to the seventh most expensive flood since 1980 (PDF).

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No man can move mountains, but our President just might move the nation's largest river.

File under: whoa.

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