Environmental Science & Technology
In Chesapeake Bay in the United States, decades of management efforts have resulted in modest reductions of nutrient loads from the watershed, but the corresponding improvements in estuarine water quality have not consistently followed. Generalized additive models were used to directly link river flows and nutrient loads from the watershed to nutrient trends in the estuary on a station-by-station basis, which allowed for identification of exactly when and where responses are happening. Results show that Chesapeake Bay’s total nitrogen and total phosphorus conditions are mostly improving after accounting for variation in freshwater flow. Almost all of these improving nutrient concentrations in the estuary can be explained by reductions in watershed loads entering through 16 rivers and 145 nearby point sources, with the nearby point source reductions being slightly more effective at explaining estuarine nutrient trends. Overall, these two major types of loads from multiple locations across the watershed are together necessary and responsible for the improving estuarine nutrient conditions, a finding that is highly relevant to managing valuable estuarine resources worldwide.
Original Publication Citation
Murphy, R. R., Keisman, J., Harcum, J., Karrh, R. R., Lane, M., Perry, E. S., & Zhang, Q. (2022). Nutrient improvements in Chesapeake Bay: Direct effect of load reductions and implications for coastal management. Environmental Science & Technology, 56(1), 260-270. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.1c05388
Murphy, Rebecca R.; Keisman, Jennifer; Harcum, Jon; Karrh, Renee R.; Lane, Mike; Perry, Elgin S.; and Zhang, Qian, "Nutrient Improvements in Chesapeake Bay: Direct Effect of Load Reductions and Implications for Coastal Management" (2022). Biological Sciences Faculty Publications. 470.