Decoupling the influence of biological and physical processes on the dissolved oxygen in the Chesapeake Bay
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-OCEANS
It is instructive and essential to decouple the effects of biological and physical processes on the dissolved oxygen condition, in order to understand their contribution to the interannual variability of hypoxia in Chesapeake Bay since the 1980s. A conceptual bottom DO budget model is applied, using the vertical exchange time scale (VET) to quantify the physical condition and net oxygen consumption rate to quantify biological activities. By combining observed DO data and modeled VET values along the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay, the monthly net bottom DO consumption rate was estimated for 1985-2012. The DO budget model results show that the interannual variations of physical conditions accounts for 88.8% of the interannual variations of observed DO. The high similarity between the VET spatial pattern and the observed DO suggests that physical processes play a key role in regulating the DO condition. Model results also show that long-term VET has a slight increase in summer, but no statistically significant trend is found. Correlations among southerly wind strength, North Atlantic Oscillation index, and VET demonstrate that the physical condition in the Chesapeake Bay is highly controlled by the large-scale climate variation. The relationship is most significant during the summer, when the southerly wind dominates throughout the Chesapeake Bay. The seasonal pattern of the averaged net bottom DO consumption rate ( B20) along the main stem coincides with that of the chlorophyll-a concentration. A significant correlation between nutrient loading and B20 suggests that the biological processes in April-May are most sensitive to the nutrient loading.
hypoxia; vertical exchange time; DO consumption rate; nutrient loading; climate variation; estuary
Du, Jiabi and Shen, Jian, Decoupling the influence of biological and physical processes on the dissolved oxygen in the Chesapeake Bay (2015). JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-OCEANS, 120, 78-93.