Hypoxic events in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, during the summer of 2001

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Bottom water hypoxic events were observed in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island during the summer of 2001 using a towed sensor, vertical casts at fixed stations, and continuous monitoring buoys. This combination of approaches allowed for both extensive spatial and temporal sampling. Oxygen concentrations below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acute hypoxia criterion of 2.3 mg l-1 were observed in the northern parts of Narragansett Bay, including the Providence River. We estimate 39% of the area of the Providence River was affected by acute hypoxia between July and September 2001. All other regions experienced only small areas of acute hypoxia (< 5%), and no acute hypoxia was observed from Quonset Point south. The area encompassing oxygen concentrations below the EPA chronic hypoxia criterion of 4.8 mg l-1 was much more extensive in the upper half of Narragansett Bay, sometimes covering the majority of the region, though it is unclear whether exposure to concentrations below this criterion persisted long enough to significantly affect marine species in these areas. Vertical profiles of dissolved oxygen typically exhibited a mid water oxygen minimum near the pycnocline, followed by a slight increase in oxygen with depth. The surface waters above the pycnocline were typically supersaturated with oxygen. The northern portions of the Bay where the most extensive hypoxia was observed corresponded to the regions with both the greatest thermohaline stratification, the highest nutrient inputs, and the highest primary productivity. © 2007 Estuarine Research Federation.

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Estuaries and Coasts