The inability to make routine nutrient measurements at the same space and time scales that are possible for temperature, salinity, and chlorophyll fluorescence has created a critical gap in our understanding of ocean biochemical and ecosystem processes. Fortunately, considerable investment and progress in nutrient sensor development has occurred recently, and several optical and reagent-based nutrient sensors are available commercially. Optical nitrate sensors and reagent-based nutrient analyzers are commercially available in configurations that are suitable for extended moored deployment.

A central uncertainty related to hypoxia in Long Island Sound is the influx of nitrogen from New York Harbor and Block Island Sound. Utlizing moored measurements of nutrients in Long Island and Block Island Sounds will constrain the processes that control the onset, duration and extent of hypoxia and lead to an improved predictive capability for the management of discharges. These results will be transferred to the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Ongoing nutrient monitoring efforts include:

Long Island Sound: UCONN and URI are collaborating to deploy nutrient sensors on two moorings in western Long Island Sound. Several of the LIS nitrate sensors have been provided by the EPA. Additionally, nutrient data from the CT Department of Environmental Protection cruises are available on the LISICOS website.

Gulf of Maine: The Great Bay Buoy in New Hampshire has been monitoring nutrients since 2005. Additionally, they are participating in a NOPP funded project with Wetlabs Inc. to help develop and test the next generation of phosphate and ammonia sensors.

Rhode Island: The University of Rhode Island (URI) has a long-term goal of obtaining and analyzing in-situ, time-series measurements of nutrient concentrations by deploying commercially available sensors at key NERACOOS locations and time periods. URI has been funded by NERACOOS to establish a nutrient sensing facility in the Center for Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry, located on the campus of the URI Graduate School of Oceanography. The plan is that the URI nutrient sensing facility would ultimately oversee the care-taking, analytical calibration, operation, deployment and data processing for in situ nutrient sensors deployed on moorings, and other observation platforms. This nutrient monitoring effort will begin in Narragansett Bay and Long Island Sound and ultimately extend to other locations in the NERACOOS region, as sufficient funds from NOAA and other agencies become available. Research to date has focused on evaluation and demonstration deployments for four different commercial nutrient sensors, primarily in coastal Rhode Island waters.


NERACOOS Nutrient Partners:

University of Rhode Island
University of New Hampshire COOS
Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection