Mapping of Gulf dead zone must continue: LetterBy Doug Daigle, Letters to the Editor, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune
2 July 2014
Researchers found an above-average 5,840 square mile area with oxygen levels below 2 parts per million along Louisiana’s coast in 2013, well above the 2,889 square miles measured in 2012, and above the five-year average. (Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium; Louisiana State University)
Re: "Dead zone the size of Connecticut expected along Louisiana coast, scientists say," June 25, NOLA.com. This should be a reminder of the importance of the Gulf hypoxia issue for our state. Louisiana should be aware of another aspect of this situation, the potential loss of funding for the annual mapping cruise done by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, or LUMCON.
These cruises began the mapping of the Gulf hypoxic zone in 1985, and have continued each summer since (with one exception.) They provide a critical scientific record of the trend of hypoxia in the Gulf, as well as a measure of progress for efforts to reduce nutrient loading upstream in the Mississippi River Basin. Additional hypoxia measuring cruises by Texas A&M University and the EPA, as well as use of air and underwater gliders, complement the LUMCON effort but do not replace it.
The LUMCON cruises have been funded through competitive grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but redirection of these funds has been proposed. Louisiana and the Gulf and basin states have a strong interest in seeing that annual mapping cruises of the hypoxic zone continue.
Louisiana Hypoxia Working Group Louisiana State University