Peg Van Patten, Connecticut Sea Grant,
Robert Burg, EPA Long Island Sound Office,
Barbara Branca, New York Sea Grant
Groton, CT (April 1, 2015)—The Sea Grant programs of Connecticut and New York announced today that they will fund research grants that will aim to illuminate the changing conditions that cause hypoxia (low oxygen conditions) in Long Island Sound. The research is supported by the bi-state Long Island Sound Study with funding from the US Environmental Protection Agency. The three projects, totaling $843,424, involve teams of researchers in two states. Using different techniques and asking different but related questions, the researchers will examine nutrient cycling and the impacts of nitrogen pollution on water quality in Long Island Sound. This research will improve our ability to model future conditions and management actions. Projects began in March 2015 and should be completed in 2017.
“By focusing our research efforts on understanding how the ecosystem is responding to reductions in nitrogen loading, we will be able to more accurately predict how the system might respond to future changes and what steps might be necessary to achieve long term goals for water quality in the Sound,” said Mark Tedesco, director of the EPA Long Island Sound Office.
Craig R. Tobias, University of Connecticut Department of Marine Sciences, will examine biogeochemical processes involving nitrogen loss and recycling in Long Island Sound sediments and the connections to overlying waters. The result will help researchers and managers gauge the susceptibility of the Sound to changes in nitrogen loads and how the system might respond to recent or future decreases in nitrogen.
Robinson “Wally” Fulweiler, Boston University Department of Earth and Environment, will quantify changes in organic matter as it at falls through the water to the sediment in five locations. She will also examine how the movement of nutrients into and out of the sediment may be changing in response to changes in the magnitude of nutrient inputs. Bacterial processes in the sediments can augment or mask changes in the nutrient concentration of the overlying water by storing or releasing nitrogen from the sediments, and these relationships can vary with changes in temperature, sediment type, and nitrogen concentration.
Mark A. Altabet, UMass Dartmouth Department of Estuarine and Ocean Science, will use isotope geochemical techniques to examine the impact of recent changes in nitrogen inputs and oxygen levels due to recent upgrades to wastewater treatment plants. Stable isotopes allow scientists to identify the sources of nitrogen (e.g. sewage, fertilizers, air emissions) and evaluate the importance of recycling and other bacterial processes to the overall nitrogen budget of LIS.
The Long Island Sound Study Research Grant Program is conducted by Connecticut Sea Grant, based at the University of Connecticut at Avery Point, and New York Sea Grant, based at Stony Brook University. Both are part of the National Sea Grant College Program network, administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Sea Grant’s mission is to foster the conservation and rational use of our coastal and marine resources through research, outreach and education. Funding for the program is provided to the NOAA Sea Grant programs by EPA as part of the Long Island Sound Study, a cooperative effort between the EPA and the states of Connecticut and New York to restore and protect the Sound and its ecosystems.