SITE SEARCH:
video overview
ADS

IIr Associates, Inc.
Publisher of The Virginia Engineer

Print-Publishing Services
Web Site Design-Coding-Hosting
Business Consulting

Phone: (804) 779-3527
sales@iirassoc.com
iirassoc.com

FEATURE ARTICLE
Large “Dead Zone” Forecasted For Chesapeake Bay
July 2019

With funding support provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), ecologists from the University of Michigan (U-M) and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science have released a forecast for a large Chesapeake Bay “dead zone” in 2019 due to well-above-average river flows associated with increased rainfall in the watershed since last fall.

“This year’s forecast is for the fourth-largest dead zone in the past 20 years, illustrating that more work needs to be done,” noted U-M aquatic ecologist and report co-author Don Scavia. “The Chesapeake Bay dead zone remains considerably larger than the reduction goals, and we’ll never reach those targets unless more is done to reduce nutrient pollution.”

Scavia, professor emeritus at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability, is a member of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-funded teams that produce annual forecasts for the Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay and Lake Erie.

According to information, this summer’s Chesapeake Bay hypoxic or “dead zone,” an area of low oxygen that can kill fish and other aquatic life, is expected to cover approximately 2.1 cubic miles, while the volume of water with no oxygen is predicted to be between 0.49 and 0.63 cubic miles during early and late summer.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Chesapeake Bay Report Card, released earlier this spring, gave the bay a grade of “C” in 2018, in part due to the extreme precipitation. Spring rainfall plays an important role in determining the size of the Chesapeake Bay “dead zone.”

This year, exceptionally high spring rainfall and streamflow is transporting nitrogen to tidal waters in amounts above the long-term average, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which provides the nitrogen-loading estimates used to generate the annual hypoxia forecast.

In spring 2019, the Susquehanna River delivered 102.6 million pounds of nitrogen into the Chesapeake Bay. The Potomac River, as measured near Washington, D.C., supplied an additional 47.7 million pounds of nitrogen, according to USGS. This is well above long-term averages of 80.6 million pounds from the Susquehanna and 31.8 million pounds from the Potomac. Loads from the Susquehanna have not been this high since 2011.

Throughout the year, researchers measure oxygen and nutrient levels as part of the Chesapeake Bay Monitoring Program, run by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. This year’s findings will be released in the fall.


  ------   Feature Article Archive  -----  
 
 
The Virginia Engineer on facebook
The Virginia Engineer RSS Feed