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Assessment of Ecosystem Responses to Nitrogen Load Reductions Could Inform the Development of a Forecast Model for Mitigating Hypoxia in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island

National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS)-sponsored scientists from the University of Rhode Island, Brown University, University of Connecticut, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and Narragansett Bay Estuary Program are working closely with state managers to assess the ecosystem responses to nitrogen load reductions and to develop a forecast model as a critical adaptive management tool for mitigating hypoxia.

In 2003, an intensive hypoxia event in Narragansett Bay resulted in a large fish kill, prompting a new state law to impose nitrogen limits on wastewater treatment facilities that are the dominant source of nutrient loads to the Bay. This summer, data from a combination of large-scale spatial conductivity, temperature and depth (CTD) surveys, moored vertical profilers, and high-resolution towed undulator surveys have revealed a hypoxic zone as large as the extreme 2003 event, extending throughout most of the Bay’s northern region and covering most of the lower water column on neap tides.

Information on this hypoxic event and the project’s plans to improve management capabilities will be presented at the first annual

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