A Multidecade Trend-Monitoring Program for Chesapeake Bay, A Temperate East Coast Estuary

    Published: Jan 1987

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    In the past two decades, Chesapeake Bay has experienced apparent increasing periods of deep water anoxia, poor spawning success by anadromous fish species, and unprecedented declines in submerged aquatic vegetation. These changes coincide with increased loading of nutrients and toxic materials from the surrounding 109 219 km2 drainage basin, which is experiencing significant changes in land use and population density. Concern by basin governments and citizens led ultimately to the establishment in 1984 of a 167-station monitoring network reporting to a common data bank. This program is designed to operate for at least 1.5 to 2 decades and to define trends in Bay water and sediment quality during that period. Twenty water and sediment quality parameters are monitored 20 times per year in the main stem and principal tidal tributaries. Collections link with studies of sediment organics, toxics, benthos, phyto- and zooplankton, and commercially harvested species. Data for 1984 indicate that large riverine inflows produced intense water column stratification and unusually widespread anoxia in the Bay main stem, but mixing events and wind forcing may temporarily reduce severity and promote reaeration. Early data sets indicate pulses of nutrient input into the estuary, nutrient regeneration in subpycnoclinal water, phytoplankton response to nutrients, as well as instances of potential nutrient limitation.


    water quality, monitoring, temporal, spatial, trend, eutrophication, anoxia, nutrients, organics, toxics, chlorophyll, phytoplankton, zooplankton, government, Chesapeake Bay, data management, estuary

    Author Information:

    Mountford, K
    Science advisor, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Chesapeake Bay Program, Annapolis, MD

    Mackiernan, GB
    Science advisor, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Chesapeake Bay Program, Annapolis, MD

    Committee/Subcommittee: E47.14

    DOI: 10.1520/STP28583S

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