Record Gulf dead zone predictedBy STEVEN WARD, Advocate staff writer
15 July 2008–THE ADVOCATE
This year’s "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico is predicted to be 8,800 square miles, the largest recorded in history, scientists with LSU and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said today.
The prediction was released during a midday telephone news conference.
The square miles of the "dead zone," also known as hypoxia, is roughly the size of New Jersey, LSU and NOAA officials said.
The largest dead zone on record was in 2002 with a measurement of 8,481 square miles.
Hypoxia is low oxygen water that cannot support marine life. Hypoxia forms each summer in the Gulf of Mexico when nutrients and nitrogen from fertilizer or urban runoff get into the Mississippi River.
LSU scientist R. Eugene Turner said this year’s record "dead zone" is in large part due to nitrogen leaking into the Mississippi River from a huge increase in corn planting.
The nitrogen leaks into the river, which then flows into the Gulf of Mexico.