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News Article | June 11, 2016
Site: http://www.techtimes.com/rss/sections/environment.xml

The Dead Zone that grows annually in the Gulf of Mexico could stretch to over an area the size of Connecticut, according to new predictions. In all, this area of the Gulf where little life can exist will cover near 5,900 square miles. The hypoxic zones are created because of the runoff of agricultural waste into waterways. Phosphorus and nitrogen from fertilizers and waste from livestock can rob regions of water bodies of their oxygen. As a result, plants and animals in the area are unable to take in the vital element, and die of suffocation. Although the size of the dead zone may sound large, the predicted area is about average for the summer season, researchers contend. The Gulf of Mexico is known for its great diversity of life, including many species essential for commercial and recreational purposes. "Dead zones are a real threat to gulf fisheries and the communities that rely on them. We'll continue to work with our partners to advance the science to reduce that threat. One way we're doing that is by using new tools and resources, like better predictive models, to provide better information to communities and businesses," said Russell Callender of the National Ocean Service. The Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force has struggled since 2001 to bring the average size of the dead zone in the waterway down to and average of 1,950 square miles. However, the size of the hypoxic zone averaged 5,941 square miles between 1995 and 2015. "And while the latest forecast calls for an average-size dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, it is important to recognize that these averages are unacceptable," said Don Scavia, an aquatic ecologist from the Graham Sustainability Institute. "The bottom line is that we will never reach the action plan's goal of 1,950 square miles until more serious actions are taken to reduce the loss of Midwest fertilizers into the Mississippi River system." A series of four computer models were used to develop the new prediction. Individual models varied in their analysis between a low of 5,204 square miles to a high of 6,823 square miles. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) develops predictions each year for the extent of hypoxic zones in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as Lake Erie and Chesapeake Bay. Although researchers have developed their prediction for the Gulf of Mexico, the actual extent of the zone will depend on several environmental factors, including tropical storms and hurricanes. © 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Bamford H.A.,National Ocean Service | Kavanagh C.,National Ocean Service
Marine Technology Society Journal | Year: 2015

The National Ocean Service (NOS), a line office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is the nation’s ocean and coastal agency. Our activities span a broad range that includes charting our nation’s coastline; defining the National Spatial Reference System; providing the national network of coastal tide and water level sensors; serving as the lead federal agency of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System; administering the Coastal Zone Management Program; providing the scientific foundation and socioeconomic information to local, state, and regional decision makers to adapt to the impacts of coastal hazards and climate change; serving as the authoritative resource for science related to debris, oil, and chemical spills; managing marine sanctuaries; and supporting the management of estuarine research reserves, coral reefs, and marine protected areas. Today, our coasts and coastal communities face increasingly significant impacts of higher intensity coastal storms; changing sea levels and Great Lakes levels; increased coastal development; increased demand on natural resources and infrastructure; and increased demands on our marine transportation system. In response to these issues, NOS aligns its activities along three priorities: (1) supporting coastal resilience; (2) advancing coastal intelligence; and (3) promoting place-based conservation. NOS relies on coastal observations and data products to carry out our mission. Characteristics of future coastal observations include lower cost coupled with greater efficiency, diverse platforms, multiuse data collection, and crowdsourcing. Data products will need to be increasingly geographically tailored; result from a greater degree of coordination and integration; and result in greater data access. © 2015, Marine Technology Society Inc.. All rights reserved. Source

MacFadyen A.,National Ocean Service | Watabayashi G.Y.,National Ocean Service | Barker C.H.,National Ocean Service | Beegle-Krause C.J.,Genwest Systems Inc.
Geophysical Monograph Series | Year: 2011

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) provides scientific support for oil and chemical spills. During the unprecedented Deepwater Horizon oil spill response in the Gulf of Mexico, the Emergency Response Division (OR&R/Emergency Response Division) provided daily 72 h tactical forecasts for movement of the surface oil. Surface oil distribution was initialized daily from analysis of satellite imagery and incorporation of visual overflight observations. Computation of oil trajectories utilized currents from a number of hydrodynamic models allowing an ensemble forecasting approach. Results from the suite of trajectories were combined to produce a final forecast product for distribution to the Incident Command Posts. These forecasts were utilized during the Deepwater Horizon response for planning, allocation of resources, and direction of response assets. © 2011 by the American Geophysical Union. Source

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