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Dead Zone Size Predicted to be Largest Ever

Dead Zone Size Predicted to be Largest Ever

June 23, 2011

The record-breaking flood of 2011 will likely cause another record-breaking event: the largest Dead Zone ever recorded.  Dr. Nancy Rabalais, along with colleagues that include LSU's Dr. Gene Turner, predict that the increased influx of nutrients carried by the Mississippi River flood waters will cause the zone of hypoxia (low-to-no oxygen), aptly nicknamed the "Dead Zone," to be between 22,300 to 25,500 square kilometers, or 13,857 to 15,845 square miles.  The largest Dead Zone recorded since consistent mapping began in 1985 was in 2002, at about 8,400 square miles.  Rabalais and colleagues released an estimate the area to be between 100 and 1,000 square miles larger this summer.

Turner and Rabalais made this prediction with a few caveats, as factors such as strong weather events and unusual oceanographic currents affect the distribution of dissolved oxygen levels in the water.

Rabalais' annual Dead Zone mapping cruise begins July 24, where the researchers will spend nearly two weeks aboard the R/V Pelican visiting 80 to a 100+ stations along the Louisiana and Texas coasts to determine the size of the area of low oxygen.

To read the full report, click here.
To learn more about hypoxia, visit http://www.gulfhypoxia.net