This years dead zone on the Gulf of Mexico could be the size of Connecticut
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted that this year’s Gulf of Mexico dead zone will be around 5,898 square miles, approximately the size of Connecticut.
Dead zones are uninhabitable for fish due to the low levels of oxygen caused by wastewater and industrial agriculture.
The gulf contains diverse marine life, including important commercial and recreational fisheries. Organisms unable to leave the low-oxygen dead zone become stressed and can die of suffocation.
Although this year’s forecast is the dead zone will be average size, it still far exceeds the EPA’s national goal of having reduced the zone to 1,930 square miles.
Russell Callender, assistant NOAA administrator for the National Ocean Service, said “We’ll continue to work with our partners to advance the science to reduce that threat. One way we’re doing that is by using new tools and resources, like better predictive models, to provide better information to communities and businesses”.
A series of four computer models were used to develop the new prediction. Individual models varied in their analysis between a low of 5,204 square miles to a high of 6,823 square miles.
NOAA develops predictions each year for the extent of dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as Lake Erie and Chesapeake Bay.