Dead Zone Forecast: Will Remain 'Average' Size In 2014

Jun 25, 2014

Researchers are expecting the low-oxygen “dead zone” that forms every year in the Gulf of Mexico to remain about the same size.

The Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium forecast calls for the dead zone to be about 5,700 square miles.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the dead zone could be smaller — possibly as low as 4,600 square miles this summer.

It defines a dead zone as an area with low oxygen that causes marine life to abandon an environment that should be teeming with life. The primary cause is nutrient pollution flushed down rivers to the coast.

NOAA says the actual size of the low-oxygen area will be measured later this year. Results will be released in July or early August.

The Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Task Force has long set a goal of reducing the annual size of the dead zone to less than 1,900 square miles.

It’s the second largest dead zone on earth. The biggest is in the Baltic Sea.