Because deficient dissolved oxygen (DO) levels may have severe detrimental effects on estuarine and marine life, DO has been widely used as an indicator of ecological conditions by environmental monitoring programs. The U.S. EPA's Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program for Estuaries (EMAP-E) monitored DO conditions in the estuaries of the Gulf of Mexico from 1991 to 1994. DO was measured in two ways: 1)instantaneous profiles from the surface to the bottom were taken during the day, and 2) continuous measurements were taken near the bottom at 15 min intervals for at least 12 h. This information was summarized to assess the spatial distribution and severity of DO conditions in these estuaries. Depending on the criteria used to define hypoxia (DO concentrations usually < 2 mg L-1 or 15 mg L-1) and the method by which DO is measured, we estimate that between 5.2 and 29.3% of the total estuarine area in the Louisianian Province was affected by low DO conditions.
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Dissolved oxygen conditions in northern Gulf of Mexico estuaries