Dead zones are hypoxic (low-oxygen) areas in the world’s oceans, the observed incidences of which have been increasing since oceanographers began noting them in the 1970s. These occur near inhabited coastlines, where aquatic life is most concentrated A team of NOAA-supported scientists is predicting that this year’s Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone could range from a low of approximately 1,197 square miles to as much as 6,213 square miles. The wide range is the result of using two different forecast models. The forecast is based on Mississippi River nutrient inputs compiled annually by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The Gulf of Mexico dead zone is typically about 8,000 square miles and is located where the Mississippi River dumps high-nutrient runoff from its vast drainage basin, which includes the heart of U.S. agribusiness, the Midwest. This is equivalent to a dead zone the size of New Jersey.