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NOAA-Supported Scientists Predict Larger Than Average Gulf Dead Zone

A team of CSCOR-supported scientists from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Louisiana State University, and the University of Michigan in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey, is forecasting that the “dead zone” off the coast of Louisiana and Texas in the Gulf of Mexico this summer could be larger than the long-term average. The dead zone is an area in the Gulf of Mexico where seasonal oxygen levels drop too low to support most life in bottom and near-bottom waters.

The scientists’ average forecast range indicates the area could measure between 6,500 and 7,800 square miles, or an area roughly the size of the State of New Jersey. This range reflects an assessment of the average forecasted range from two independent models and is based on nutrient inputs to the Gulf of Mexico.  While the 2010 nutrient loads were below average, there is evidence that the Gulf is more sensitive to nutrient inputs today than in the past-with a larger hypoxic zone resulting from a smaller amount of nutrients inputs.

NOAA has funded investigations and forecast development for the dead zone since 1990. This advanced warning is just one example of NOAA

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