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Signals of Change in Shallow Waters of Chesapeake Bay

Authors: Alexandra Wagner*, Chesapeake Research Consortium , Mackenzie Bodman, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Kent Mountford, Cove Corporation, Peter Tango, U.S. Geological Survey, Emily Trentacoste, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Rebecca Murphy, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Land Use and Land Cover Change, Environmental Science
Keywords: environmental geography, land use change, water resources, Chesapeake Bay, citizen science, water quality
Session Type: Guided Poster
Day: 4/10/2020
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual Track 3
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The 64,000 square mile Chesapeake Bay Watershed spans across six states and the District of Columbia on the east coast of the United States. Restoration efforts have been underway for decades in the watershed to restore water quality and living resources in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Long-term water quality monitoring, primarily in the main stem and large tributaries, is used to evaluate the Chesapeake Bay’s response to restoration, to changing landscapes, and to evolving environmental conditions. However, much of the Bay’s area is comprised of small tidal tributaries and shallow waters, which are often unmonitored. The response of these waters to changing conditions remains relatively unknown. Analysis of a 40-year citizen science water quality monitoring data set collected at Osborn Cove – a small, shallow embayment of St. Leonard Creek, a tributary of the Patuxent River – gave insight into how these areas may be responding to climate change, land use change, and restoration efforts. Seasonal and statistical trends analyses on parameters such as water temperature and dissolved oxygen revealed that water quality is degrading over time in Osborn Cove. A land use change analysis in the surrounding watershed confirmed land development as a potential driver of change. Preliminary comparisons of water quality trends in the downstream main stem Patuxent River with Osborn Cove demonstrate that shallow waters may be responding differently than tributaries.

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