Ecological Forecasting and the Science of Hypoxia in Chesapeake Bay


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Abstract

Chronic seasonal low oxygen condition (hypoxia) occurs in the deep waters of Chesapeake Bay as a result of eutrophication-induced phytoplankton blooms and their subsequent decomposition. Summertime hypoxia has been observed in Chesapeake Bay for over 80 years, with scientific attention and understanding increasing substantially during the past several decades after rigorous and routine monitoring programs were put in place. More recently, annual forecasts of the severity of summer hypoxia and anoxia (no oxygen) from simple empirically derived nutrient load-response models have been made. A review of these models over the past decade indicates that they have been generally accurate, with the exception of a few summers when wind events or storms significantly disrupted the water column. Hypoxic and anoxic conditions, as well as their forecasts, have received increased media attention over the past 5 years, contributing to an ongoing public dialogue about Chesapeake Bay restoration progress.

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