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.
Hypoxia and fish kills continue to be common in the Neuse River Estuary of North Carolina. Our group aims to identify key sources of nitrogen loading within the watershed, and to provide management-relevant hypoxia and algal bloom forecasts for the estuary. This ongoing research has been featured in two Sea Grant blog posts:
High levels of spring nitrogen loading from the Mississippi River, coupled with typical flow and wind patterns on the shelf, should produce an above-average hypoxic zone this summer in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. An ensemble of models has predicted a ‘Dead Zone’ between 14,000 and 30,000 sq km (90% predictive interval). The best estimate from the Obenour et al. model is 19,100 sq km.