A model study of the response of hypoxia to upwelling-favorable wind on the northern Gulf of Mexico shelf Academic Article uri icon


  • The hypoxic region in the northern Gulf of Mexico, one of the largest man-made hypoxic zones in the world, has received extensive scientific study and management interest. A previous statistical study has concluded that in addition to anthropogenic nitrogen loading, the observed hypoxic extent is correlated to the duration of upwelling favorable (westerly) wind without elucidating the underlying mechanism. In this study, we use a three-dimensional, coupled hydrological-biogeochemical model to mechanistically examine how variations of the hypoxic area are related to the duration of upwelling-favorable wind. We performed scenario experiments with different durations of upwelling-favorable wind using realistic winds from summer 2002 (when upwelling-favorable winds were present only for about 1month) and summer 2009 (when upwelling-favorable conditions started early and persisted for about 2months). While the maximum simulated hypoxic area is approximately 15,000km2 in both cases, the evolutions of the hypoxic area and the dates when its maximum extent are reached are different. With an early start of persistently upwelling-favorable wind in 2009, the hypoxic area reached its maximum in early summer and decreased afterwards. By contrast, the hypoxic area was small in early summer of 2002 and peaked during the short period of upwelling-favorable wind in late summer. The model revealed that the wind influences the evolution of the hypoxic area by changing the vertical and horizontal distributions of the low salinity, high chlorophyll water on the shelf. 2013 The Authors.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Feng, Y., Fennel, K., Jackson, G. A., DiMarco, S. F., & Hetland, R. D.

citation count

  • 58

complete list of authors

  • Feng, Yang||Fennel, Katja||Jackson, George A||DiMarco, Steven F||Hetland, Robert D

publication date

  • March 2014