Monthly Archives: March 2014

Influence of tropical storms on turbidity in Chesapeake Bay, USA


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INFLUENCE OF TROPICAL STORMS
ON TURBIDITY IN CHESAPEAKE BAY, USA

Cortney Cameron
EOS 321S, Duke University – Durham, NC

Introduction

The Chesapeake Bay, located in the mid-Atlantic costal region of Maryland and Virginia, is a partially mixed estuary and the largest in the United States, with a length of 300 km and area of 6,500 km2 [Willard et al., 2003]. With an average depth of 6.5 m, the Bay is broad and shallow, cut by a 20-30 m deep by 1-4 km wide central channel; depths greater than 10 m constitute just 24% of the Bay’s surface area [Kemp et al., 2005]. The Bay is interconnected with its 165,000 km2 watershed by a 18,000 km dendritic shoreline [Kemp et al., 2005; Willard et al., 2003] and exhibits a strong north-south salinity gradient; fluvial freshwater drives stratification, overlying denser seawater from the Atlantic Ocean to the south and driving stratification, which suppresses vertical exchange and traps sediments [Sanford, Suttles, & Halka, 2001]. Episodic storm events serve to destratify Bay waters and stir sediments, playing key roles in both erosion and deposition, depending on storm dynamics [Stevenson, Kearney, & Pendleton, 1985; Kemp et al., 2005; Palinkas et al., 2013]. Read more