USGS leads STAC report on water clarity changes over the past 30 years in Chesapeake Bay

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Water clarity is widely recognized as an important indicator of the health and trophic state of aquatic ecosystems and is a key management target given the limit it imposes on the growth of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV).

It is also plays a significant role in aesthetic human judgments of the suitability of water bodies for recreational use. A better understanding of the controls on water clarity variability expand our understanding of SAV trends, while providing new insights into the interactions between eutrophication, sediment inputs, and the concentrations and composition of suspended solids.

The USGS lead a multi-institution STAC workshop to synthesize the current state of the science on water clarity trends and the factors that affect them, and to identify priorities for future research. The synthesis was structured to address an explicit set of questions posed by the Chesapeake Bay Program in the original STAC workshop proposal. This format ensured prioritization of research gaps that align with managers’ needs.

The findings are available in the STAC workshop report “Understanding and Explaining 30 Years of Water Clarity Trends in the Chesapeake Bay’s Tidal Waters” by  Keisman, J., C. Friedrichs, R. Batiuk, J. Blomquist, J. Cornwell, C. Gallegos, S. Lyubchich, K. Moore, R. Murphy, R. Orth, L. Sanford, P. Tango, J. Testa, M. Trice, and Q. Zhang. 2019. STAC Publication Number 19-004, Edgewater, MD. (25 pages).

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