Hypoxia in a Coastal Embayment of the Chesapeake Bay: A Model Diagnostic Study of Oxygen Dynamics

Jian Shen; Taiping Wang; Herman, Julie; Mason, Pam; Arnold, Gretchen L.
September 2008
Estuaries & Coasts;Sep2008, Vol. 31 Issue 4, p652
Academic Journal
Two distinct hypoxic patterns were revealed from high-frequency dissolved oxygen (DO) data collected from North Branch of Onancock Creek, a shallow coastal estuary of the Chesapeake Bay, from July to October 2004. Diurnal hypoxia developed associated with large DO swings during fair weather and hypoxialanoxia developed for prolonged 2-5-day periods following rainfall events. A simplified diagnostic DO-algae model was used to investigate DO dynamics in the creek. The model results show that the modeling approach enables important features of the DO dynamics in the creek to be captured and analyzed. Large anthropogenic inputs of nutrients to the creek stimulated macroalgae blooms in the embayment. High DO production resulted in supersaturated DO in daytime, whereas DO was depleted at night as the high respiration overwhelmed the DO supply, leading to hypoxia. Unlike deep-water environments, in this shallow-water system, biological processes dominate DO variations. High macroalgae biomass interacting with low light and high temperature trigger the development of prolonged hypoxic/anoxic postrainfall events.


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