NCCOS Predicts “Dead Zone” Will Be Largest on Record
A team of scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium and Louisiana State University is forecasting that the “Dead Zone” of depleted oxygen off the coast of Louisiana and Texas this summer may be larger than the average size since 1990.
This NOAA supported modeling effort, led by Eugene Turner, Ph.D., of LSU, predicts this summer’s “Dead Zone” may reach 8,500 square miles, an area the size of the state of New Jersey and largest since measurements began in 1985. The forecast is based on nitrate loads provided by the U.S. Geological Survey from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers in May and incorporates the previous year’s conditions.
NOAA funds research cruises to track development of hypoxia. This forecast of the annual hypoxic event in the Gulf of Mexico is an example of an innovative environmental service – officially referred to as “ecological forecasting” – that NOAA scientists believe will become an important tool in coming years for both decision makers and the public.