Ecosystem Targets and Supporting Indicators
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Hypoxia is a condition that occurs in bodies of water as dissolved oxygen concentrations decrease to levels where organisms become physically stressed and ultimately cannot survive. Prolonged hypoxic conditions result in severe die-offs of animals that are unable to move out of hypoxic waters, mass migrations of mobile animals, changes in water chemistry and other adverse ecological effects. The Long Island Sound Study defines hypoxia as waters with dissolved oxygen concentrations less than 3 mg/L.
For more information on hypoxia and efforts to reduce its occurrence in Long Island Sound read the hypoxia section in our management plan.
The duration of hypoxia refers to the length of time during which hypoxia is observed in Long Island Sound. Hypoxia is most common during summer months when waters are stratified (preventing mixing of oxygen from the surface to the bottom) and temperatures are higher (so less oxygen stays in the dissolved form in the water). The Long Island Sound water quality monitoring program measures dissolved oxygen concentrations at multiple stations across the Sound every other week during summer months (June-September) and monthly thereafter.
The 2020 hypoxic event lasted an estimated 43 days, beginning on July 10 and ending Sept. 10. The duration does not include the period between Aug. 16 and Sept. 7 when oxygen levels in those three stations were greater than 3.0 mg/L. The duration was below the average of 54 days for the entire time series.
CTDEEP began operating the water quality monitoring program in 1991.
Here are links to find data on dissolved oxygen levels and the extent of hypoxia in Long Island Sound:
2019 Long Island Sound CTDEEP and IEC Hypoxia Review Report