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U-M researcher and colleagues predict possible record-setting Gulf of Mexico 'dead zone'
Date:6/19/2013

to both the Gulf and Chesapeake Bay forecasts.

This year's Chesapeake Bay forecast calls for a smaller-than-average dead zone in the nation's biggest estuary. The forecast from Scavia and University of Maryland researchers has three parts: a prediction for the mid-summer volume of the low-oxygen hypoxic zone, one for the mid-summer oxygen-free anoxic zone, and a third that is an average value for the entire summer season.

The forecast calls for a mid-summer hypoxic zone of 1.46 cubic miles, a mid-summer anoxic zone of 0.26 to 0.38 cubic miles, and a summer average hypoxia of 1.108 cubic miles, all at the low end of previously recorded dead zones. Last year, the mid-summer hypoxic zone was 1.45 cubic miles. Because of the shallow nature of large parts of the estuary, the forecast focuses on water volume expressed in cubic miles instead of surface area in square miles.

The annual Gulf forecast is prepared by researchers at U-M, Louisiana State University and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. The Bay forecast is provided by U-M and the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science. Both studies are funded by NOAA.

The forecasts are based on nutrient runoff and river-and-stream data from the U.S. Geological Survey, which are then fed into computer models developed with funding from NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.

"Monitoring the health and vitality of our nation's oceans, waterways and watersheds is critical as we work to preserve and protect coastal ecosystems," said Kathryn Sullivan, acting undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and acting NOAA administrator. "These ecological forecasts are good examples of the critical environmental intelligence products and tools that help shape a healthier coast, one that is so inextricably linked to the vitality of our communities and our livelihoods."

Floods inundated much of the Midwest this spring. Several states, incl
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Contact: Jim Erickson
ericksn@umich.edu
734-647-1842
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

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