Forecasting "dead zones" in Chesapeake Bay

Scientists forecast a larger-than-average dead zone—an area of low to no oxygen that can kill fish and aquatic life—in Chesapeake Bay during summer 2017. Spring rainfall amounts in New York and Pennsylvania contributed to an above average Susquehanna River nitrogen load (81.4 million pounds) and hinted at a higher than usual impact on the Bay.

Summer hypoxia reports released through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources showed dissolved oxygen conditions were better than average, suggesting the forecast overpredicted. What happened and why can teach us a lot about the Bay, so we turned to Jeremy Testa, a hypoxia expert with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, who helps with the forecast, to learn more about what makes a dead zone, why the forecast might have missed the mark, and what the general public can do to help.


See the full transcript.