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Hurricane Katrina Induced Nutrient Runoff From an Agricultural Area to Coastal Waters in Biscayne Bay, Florida

Author(s): Zhang, Jia-Zhong Zhang; Christopher R. Kelble; Charles J. Fischer; Lloyd Moore


Name of Publisher: Elsevier

Publication Type: Journal Article

Journal Title: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science

Date of Publication: 2009

Reference Information: 84(2): pp. 209-218

Keywords: nutrient; nitrogen; phosphorus; silicon; hurricane; runoff; agriculture; fertilizer; Florida; Biscayne Bay

Abstract: Water quality surveys conducted in Biscayne Bay, Florida, indicated enhanced nutrient input coupled with increased runoff as a result of precipitation associated with Hurricane Katrina. Nutrient concentrations before Katrina ranged from 0.06–24.2 µM (mean 3.3 µM) for nitrate and 0.01–0.18 µM (mean 0.1 µM) for soluble reactive phosphate. Five days after Katrina, nitrate concentrations ranged from 0.87–80.0 µM (mean 17.0 µM), with a bay-wide mean increase of 5.2-fold over pre-hurricane levels. Soluble reactive phosphate concentrations ranged from 0.07–0.62 µM (mean 0.2 µM), with a bay-wide mean increase of 2-fold over pre-hurricane levels. The maximum concentrations for both nitrate and soluble reactive phosphate were found at a water quality monitoring station near the mouth of Mowry Canal, which drains an agricultural area in the southern Biscayne Bay watershed near Homestead, Florida. At this station, nitrate and soluble reactive phosphate concentrations increased 7- and 10-fold, respectively. Storm-induced fertilizer runoff from this agricultural area caused a bay-wide increase in nutrient concentrations after Hurricane Katrina. Nutrient concentrations in the bay returned to pre-hurricane levels within three months after Hurricane Katrina, showing the resiliency of the Biscayne Bay ecosystem.

Availability: Available online from publisher

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