2018 Expected to be an average year for Gulf hypoxia

Researchers are expecting an approximately average hypoxic zone this summer in the Northern Gulf of Mexico.  A NOAA-sponsored ensemble of models has predicted a ‘Dead Zone’ between 8,000 and 22,000 sq km (90% predictive interval) with a mean estimate of 15300 sq km (roughly the size of Connecticut).  The best estimate from the Obenour et al. model is 13,800 sq km.  This estimate reflects slightly above average nutrient loading but below average westward wind velocities, which may reduce the delivery of nutrients and freshwater over the shelf.