Hypoxia in the Chesapeake Bay: The Evolution of Observational Research to Ecological Forecasting

Martin, Damian, Environmental Sciences - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Macko, Stephen
Reidenbach, Matthew
Vondrasek, Joanna

Annual chronic low oxygen concentration (hypoxia) in the Chesapeake Bay has major ecological and economic implications. Historic data shows an increase in hypoxic volume in the Bay with an increase in nutrient loading and, with more rigorous monitoring programs in place, a subsequent decrease. Eutrophication from nutrient loading, stratification, and physical processes such as wind speed, and wind direction that drive mixing processes explain interannual variance of hypoxic conditions. Extensive research in recent decades has been conducted to describe the relationships between these drivers of hypoxia and observed dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations in the Bay. The recent development and refinement of biogeochemical modeling provides insight as to the conditions influencing interannual variance of hypoxia. Through the collaboration of various programs and scientists, the Chesapeake Bay is monitored in real time and ecological forecast systems are able to predict hypoxic conditions 48 hours into the future. This forecasted information is significant in regulatory practices as well as sustainable fishery management. Ecosystem and hypoxia models alike require extensive data for formulation and calibration. Future data collection as well as future research into community and ecosystem level responses to hypoxia and various environmental conditions is necessary in the development of best management practices to ultimately promote sustainability in the Chesapeake Bay.

MA (Master of Arts)
Hypoxia, Chesapeake Bay, Ecological Forecasting, ChesROMS, Modeling, Nutrient Loading, CBEFS, Eutrophication, Dead Zone, Dissolved Oxygen, Fisheries, Fishery Management
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