An analysis of factors affecting oxygen depletion in the New York Bight

P. G. Falkowski, T. S. Hopkins, J. J. Walsh

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Low oxygen water, of varying spatial extent, has been observed during the summer over past years in the New York Bight. In the summer of 1976 a $60 million loss of shellfish resulted from anoxia along the New Jersey coast. The development of anoxia has been attributed to increased anthropogenic carbon loading from urban areas adjacent to the Bight, an unusual climatological regime that restricted renewal of oxygen to the bottom waters, and an unusual abundance and subsequent respiratory demand of the dinoflagellate, Ceratium tripos, beneath the pycnocline. In an attempt to distinguish between man-induced and natural generic causes of oxygen depletion within the New York Bight, the authors have analyzed historical data extending back to 1910. As a result, they have identified a causal chain of events which led to the observed 1976 anoxia: namely, a warm winter with large runoff, a low frequency of spring storm events, a deep summer thermocline, persistent southerly winds with few reversals, a large autochthonous carbon load (e.g. Ceratium tripos), and low grazing pressure by zooplankton. Calculations suggest that anoxia could have occurred off the New Jersey coast in the summer of 1976 without any carbon loading from New York City, and that anoxia in this open shelf system can result from natural physical forcing and biological response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-506
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Marine Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography


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