VIMS researcher David Forrest forecasts the area of the low-oxygen "dead zone" in the northern Gulf of Mexico based on statistical correlations between the observed area of the Gulf dead zone in August and the average measured discharge and nitrogen concentration of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers during May.
Forrest's prediction takes its place among similar forecasts developed by NOAA-sponsored modeling teams and researchers at the University of Michigan, Louisiana State University, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Texas A&M University, North Carolina State University, and the United States Geological Survey.
Forecasts based on multiple models are called ensemble forecasts and are commonly used in hurricane and other weather forecasts. The NOAA-sponsored Gulf of Mexico hypoxia forecast is improving due to advancements of individual models and an increase in the number of models used.
VIMS Prediction and 90% Confidence Interval vs. Observed
Basis for VIMS Dead Zone Prediction
The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico tends to be large when May discharge from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers is high. Measurements of river discharge are provided by stream gauges operated by the U.S. Geological Survey.
The Gulf dead zone tends to be large when river discharge in May contains a high concentration of nitrogen. Measurements of nitrogen concentrations in the two rivers are provided by stream gauges operated by the U.S. Geological Survey.