Impacts of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee on the ecology of the Hudson River Estuary

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Between 27 August 2011 and 15 September 2011, the Hudson River Estuary was subjected to two named weather events: Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. An ongoing sampling programme enabled the collection of pre-storm, post-storm and prior year data of physical, chemical and biological parameters at eight locations within or adjacent to the Estuary, including the upper Hudson River and the Mohawk River. Samples were analysed to determine the degree of impact by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Suspended solids and water clarity showed significant changes, particularly at the confluence of the Mohawk River. Total phosphorus, pH and conductivity were all significantly different following the storms, but no identifiable change to total nitrogen occurred. Physical parameters associated with the Mohawk River were different pre- and post-storm, but most chemical parameters remained unchanged. Sample locations within the Estuary showed changes to both physical and chemical parameters. Estuary-wide, chlorophyll a concentration and zooplankton density biota were significantly reduced. The data indicate that quantified impacts to water quality lasted for up to three months. An assessment of these results leads to the conclusion that anthropogenic influences within and surrounding the Estuary exacerbated the ecological impacts of these storms.

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International Journal of River Basin Management

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