The scientists' latest forecast, released June 18, calls for a Gulf dead zone of between 7,450 and 8,456 square miles—an area about the size of New Jersey.
"The growth of these dead zones is an ecological time bomb," said Scavia, a professor at the U-M School of Natural Resources and Environment and director of the U-M Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute.
"Without determined local, regional and national efforts to control them, we are putting major fisheries at risk," said Scavia, who also produces annual dead-zone forecasts for the Chesapeake Bay.
Image: Mississippi dead zone in 2004. This year's Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" could be one of the largest on record, continuing a decades-long trend that threatens the health of a half-billion-dollar fishery. (Credit: Photo courtesy of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio)