"Slightly Bigger Chesapeake 'Dead Zone' Seen This Summer"

"Scientists are predicting that the Chesapeake Bay's oxygen-starved "dead zone" will be slightly larger than average this summer.

Using computer modeling underwritten by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, researchers forecast that by next month, nearly 2 cubic miles of bay water will have inadequate oxygen dissolved in it for fish and crabs to thrive. That's roughly 12 percent of the water in the bay and its river tributaries, according to Caroline Wicks of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

If it follows the normal pattern, the dead zone will grow and intensify until mid-July, then slowly shrink. About a half cubic mile of bay water is expected to be virtually devoid of oxygen in early summer, researchers predict. By late summer, the oxygen-free "anoxic" zone should shrink to about a third of a cubic mile, scientists say, which is a little better than the long-term average.

The bay forecast was developed by researchers at the University of Michigan and the UM Center for Environmental Science. Scientists in Louisiana, Texas and Virginia also helped with the modeling."

Tim Wheeler reports for the Baltimore Sun June 26, 2014.

Friday, June 27, 2014