Last updated October 10, 2018

Climate variability and extremes, interacting with nitrogen storage, amplify eutrophication risk

  • Demonstrates the critical influence of climate variability, interacting with accumulated nitrogen (N) over multidecades, on Susquehanna River dissolved nitrogen (DN) loads, known precursors of the hypoxia in the Bay
  • Illustrates that after 1 to 3 yearlong dry spells, the likelihood of exceeding a threshold DN load (56 kt yr−1) increases by 40 to 65% due to flushing of N accumulated throughout the dry spells and altered microbial processes
  • Results suggest that possible future increases in climate variability/extremes—specifically, high precipitation occurring after multiyear dry spells—could likely lead to high DN-load anomalies and hypoxia