Agencies Pool Resources To Study "Dead Zone"

A multi-agency partnership has been formed to study "the dead zone'' in the Gulf of Mexico. The dead zone refers to low-oxygen areas in the northwest and north-central Gulf where no marine life can live.

The agreement was signed recently by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Coastal Data Development Center and NASA's Earth Science Applications Directorate, and others. The two primary agencies are located at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County.

The agreement allows agencies involved to share field measurements and coastal data. Other partners include NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service Pascagoula Laboratory and the Louisiana State University Coastal Ecology Institute.

The Gulf's dead zone has increased since NOAA first began measuring it in the early 1980s. The increase is attributed in part to growing use of nitrogen fertilizers in the Mississippi River watershed.