The geographic extent of hypoxia in 2006 and 2007. Light blue shows the extent of hypoxia (<1.4 ml/l) and purple shows the region of severe hypoxia (<0.5 ml/l). Waters closest to the shore remain high in oxygen due to breaking waves. Dots represent sampling sites. Data made available by PISCO and NOAA-Fisheries, NWFSC.
In the summer of 2002, oxygen levels in the water near the Oregon coast plunged so low that fishes, crabs, and other marine organisms had to flee or die in the suffocating waters. The low oxygen levels, commonly called hypoxia, observed during 2002 were more extreme than had ever been documented so shallow and close to the shore off Oregon during the prior 50 years of oceanographic cruises. However, since 2002 coastal hypoxia has recurred off of Oregon every summer, including many years with severe hypoxia. PISCO scientists are working to understand how upwelling, a normal event that brings rich, life-giving water to the Oregon coast, can turn deadly, causing one of the largest known hypoxic "dead zones" in the world (how do Dead Zones form?). PISCO scientists are also looking closely at how Oregon’s marine life is responding to the dead zone.
Since 2002, hypoxia has occurred every summer, although the size, duration, and severity of the dead zone varies from year to year. The map below shows the known extent of hypoxia in 2006 and 2007. The most severe event occurred in the summer of 2006 when oxygen levels dropped to new historic lows including some measurements with no oxygen (anoxia), and hypoxic water could be found in large areas along the Washington and Oregon coasts. Detailed information about hypoxia is available on our Frequently Asked Questions page.
View research updates from current and previous upwelling seasons here: Hypoxia Updates.
The intent of this website is to provide relevant and up-to-date information on the science and status of hypoxia in the Pacific Northwest. To facilitate navigations of these materials, information has been broken into several smaller sections and pages which can be found at the following links: