Decoding the Mysteries of the Gulf Dead ZoneEnvironmental News Service; October 18, 2007
It is the third largest
To develop a better understanding of how nutrient pollution from the Mississippi River affects Gulf dead zone, researchers at the
The grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, amounts to $284,000, as part of the total $781,000 project. Funds were awarded through NOAA’s Northern Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia and Ecosystems Research Program.
"A better understanding of the underlying causes of the dead zone is essential for predicting its effect on the Gulf fisheries and the region," said NOAA AdministratorConrad Lautenbacher.
"The goal of this research is to help develop a range of options that coastal and upriver resource managers can use to prevent and reduce nutrient pollution that contributes to the dead zone," he said.
Scientists already know that nutrient over-enrichment can lead to excessive production of algae. When this organic material sinks and becomes decomposed, dissolved oxygen in bottom waters is reduced, resulting in seasonal hypoxia – very low oxygen water – over the
The northern portion of the
The Marine Science Institute will investigate how the dead zone affects commercially and recreationally important fish and shellfish.
Every summer, large areas of hypoxic bottom water form in the Gulf. Hypoxic waters can cause habitat loss, stress and death to marine organisms; affecting commercial harvests and ecosystem health.
This project will provide data to verify water quality models and help resource managers determine the quantitative relationships between nutrient pollution and development, magnitude, longevity, and distribution of the dead zone.
Findings are expected to support the development of more accurate predictions of hypoxia development on the
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