Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 652–663 | Cite as

Hypoxia in a Coastal Embayment of the Chesapeake Bay: A Model Diagnostic Study of Oxygen Dynamics

  • Jian Shen
  • Taiping Wang
  • Julie Herman
  • Pam Mason
  • Gretchen L. Arnold


Two distinct hypoxic patterns were revealed from high-frequency dissolved oxygen (DO) data collected from North Branch of Onancock Creek, a shallow coastal estuary of the Chesapeake Bay, from July to October 2004. Diurnal hypoxia developed associated with large DO swings during fair weather and hypoxia/anoxia developed for prolonged 2–5-day periods following rainfall events. A simplified diagnostic DO-algae model was used to investigate DO dynamics in the creek. The model results show that the modeling approach enables important features of the DO dynamics in the creek to be captured and analyzed. Large anthropogenic inputs of nutrients to the creek stimulated macroalgae blooms in the embayment. High DO production resulted in supersaturated DO in daytime, whereas DO was depleted at night as the high respiration overwhelmed the DO supply, leading to hypoxia. Unlike deep-water environments, in this shallow-water system, biological processes dominate DO variations. High macroalgae biomass interacting with low light and high temperature trigger the development of prolonged hypoxic/anoxic postrainfall events.


Hypoxia Coastal embayment Chesapeake Bay Model 



A portion of the funding for this study was provided by VADEQ and Eastern Shore Soil and Water Conservation District. The author J. Shen thanks the State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research, East China Normal University (SKLEC No. 200602) for supporting the preparation of this manuscript. We thank Drs. H. Wang, A. Kuo, and S. Sun for their suggestions during the course of this study. This is contribution number 2947 from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, School of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, Virginia.


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jian Shen
    • 1
  • Taiping Wang
    • 1
  • Julie Herman
    • 1
  • Pam Mason
    • 1
  • Gretchen L. Arnold
    • 2
  1. 1.Virginia Institute of Marine ScienceCollege of William and MaryGloucester PointUSA
  2. 2.East Virginia Company, LLCBelle HavenUSA

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