Virginia Institute of Marine Science
5th NOAA Testbeds & Proving Grounds Workshop, College Park, MD
Due to increased nutrient loads that are delivered to our coastal ecosystems, hypoxic events are becoming increasingly prevalent. In response, NOAA is working to monitor, understand and predict hypoxia in U.S. waters in order to develop strategies for forecasting these events and minimizing their detrimental effects. The Chesapeake Bay and its associated tidal tributaries, which together form one of the world’s largest and most important estuaries, is one of the coastal systems where degraded water quality and hypoxia are a major concern. Partially as a result of the number of public livelihoods affected by hypoxic events, the Chesapeake Bay is highlighted as a region of specific interest in terms of developing a NOAA operational system. Fully understanding and being able to hindcast and forecast these complex interactions is of significant ecological and economic importance, and thus the overall goal of this COMT project is to assess the readiness and maturity of a suite of existing coastal ecological community models for determining past, present and future hypoxia events within the Chesapeake Bay, in an effort to accelerate the transition of hypoxia model formulations from research to Federal operational facilities. Achieving this overall goal is feasible because of the multiple existing hydrodynamic models and ecological/dissolved oxygen models currently being successfully implemented in the Chesapeake Bay region. To date, management decisions related to Bay hypoxia have been based on the complex coupled hydrodynamic+water quality models developed under the auspices of the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program; however, because of its complexity, the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program model cannot be run in an operational fashion. Therefore, as part of the COMT, we are implementing a suite of simpler hydrodynamic and hypoxia models and assessing their relative skill in terms of reproducing dissolved oxygen observations; this will help us determine which combination of model formulations will be ideally suited for operational hypoxia modeling in the Chesapeake region. Efforts are currently underway to incorporate the most reliable model formulations into a pre-operational physical code at the NOAA/NOS/Coast Survey Development Laboratory, thus positioning NOAA so that it can consider adopting this new model with minimal effort during the next upgrade to the currently operational Chesapeake Bay Operational Forecast System (CBOFS). This will provide a seamless scheduled transition that will establish a fully operational oxygen and hypoxic volume nowcast/forecast capability within NOAA for the Chesapeake Bay, thus addressing one of the High Priority Focus areas identified in the NOAA Ecological Forecasting Roadmap.
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Friedrichs, Marjy; Lanerolle, Lyon; Friedrichs, Carl T.; and Hood, Raleigh. "The estuarine hypoxia component of the Coastal Ocean Modeling Testbed (COMT)". 4-16-2014. 5th NOAA Testbeds & Proving Grounds Workshop, College Park, MD.