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NOAA Awards $376,124 Grant to Battelle Memorial Institute to Study Hypoxia Impact on Estuarine Ecosystems

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded Battelle Memorial Institute a $376,124 grant to study the historical trends of hypoxia in Puget Sound. This grant is the first installment of a two-year award from NOAA for $517,012.

The grant supports research to reconstruct the history of hypoxia in two basins of Puget Sound by examining the chemical and biological record of past hypoxic events recorded in age-dated sediment cores. The retrospective approach will include analysis of a broad set of environmental indicators or biomarkers from different regions of Puget Sound that experience different physical oceanographic conditions, land-use patterns, river flow and urbanization. Tools in the form of either biomarkers or chemical parameters will allow a predictive capability for given current conditions and potential natural or anthropogenic scenarios, including management alternatives, such as nutrient removal and river flow control.

Hypoxia in aquatic systems refers to waters where the dissolved oxygen concentration is below two milligrams per liter. Most organisms avoid, or become physiologically stressed in, waters with oxygen below this concentration. While hypoxia can occur naturally, it is often a symptom of environments stressed by human impacts (e.g. nutrient enrichment). Over half of U.S. estuaries experience natural or human-induced hypoxic conditions at some time each year and evidence suggests that the frequency and duration of hypoxic events have increased. These hypoxic events can have large impacts on the affected ecosystems and have associated economic impacts.

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