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NOAA-supported scientists predict 'larger than average' Gulf dead zone
Date:6/29/2010

s multiple models to predict the range of the expected size of the dead zone," said Robert Magnien, Ph.D., director of NOAA's Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research. "The strong track record of these models reinforces our confidence in the link between excess nutrients from the Mississippi River and the dead zone."

"The 2010 spring nutrient load transported to the northern Gulf of Mexico is about 11 percent less than the average over the last 30 years," said Matthew Larsen, Ph.D., USGS associate director for water. "An estimated 118,000 metric tons of nitrogen in the form of nitrate were transported in May 2010 to the northern Gulf."

The collaboration among NOAA, USGS, and University scientists facilitates understanding of the linkages between activities in the Mississippi River watershed and the downstream effects on the northern Gulf of Mexico. Long-term data sets on nutrient loads and the extent of the hypoxic zone have improved forecast models used by management agencies to understand the nutrient reductions required to reduce the size of the hypoxic zone to the established goal. This year's forecast is an example of NOAA's growing ecological forecasting capabilities that allow for the protection of valuable resources using scientific, ecosystem-based approaches.

An announcement of the size of the 2010 hypoxic zone, which is an annual requirement of the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force Action Plan, will follow a NOAA-supported monitoring survey led by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium between July 24 and August 2. Information on the extent of hypoxia will also be available on the NOAA's Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Watch Web page, which displays near real-time results of the NOAA Fisheries Service summer fish survey in the northern Gulf of Mexico currently underway and scheduled to be completed by July 18.


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Contact: Ben Sherman
ben.sherman@noaa.gov
301-713-3066
NOAA Headquarters
Source:Eurekalert

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