Large 'Dead Zone' Predicted For Gulf

"A team of NOAA-supported scientists from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Louisiana State University, and the University of Michigan is forecasting that the "dead zone" off the coast of Louisiana and Texas in the Gulf of Mexico this summer could be one of the largest on record.

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.

Scientists are predicting the area could measure between 7,450 and 8,456 square miles, or an area roughly the size of New Jersey. However, additional flooding of the Mississippi River since May may result in a larger dead zone. The largest one on record occurred in 2002, measuring 8,484 square miles. ...

The dead zone size was predicted after researchers observed large amounts of nitrogen feeding into the Gulf from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers. The rivers experienced heavy water flows in April and May that were 11 percent above average."

SPX had the story June 23, 2009.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009