‘Larger than average’ Gulf dead zone predicted

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The northern Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone, an underwater area with little or no oxygen known commonly as the "dead zone," could be larger than the recent average, according to a forecast by a team of NOAA-supported scientists from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Louisiana State University and the University of Michigan.

Scientists are predicting the area could measure between 6,500 and 7,800 square miles, or an area roughly the size of the state of New Jersey. The average of the last five years is approximately 6,000 square miles. It is the goal of a federal state task force to reduce it to 1,900 square miles. The largest dead zone on record, 8,484 square miles, occurred in 2002.

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