On Friday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m., Dr. Christopher Gobler of Stony Brook University will present his annual lecture: “State of the Bays 2019: “Building resilience against climate change while we can” in the Duke Lecture Hall of Chancellor’s Hall on the Stony Brook Southampton Campus. All are welcome to attend.

Below is Dr. Gobler’s abstract for the talk:

Water is at the core of the Long Island existence. We rely on groundwater to drink. That same groundwater is the primary source of freshwater and nitrogen to our coastal ecosystems. We are surrounded by water within which we swim, boat, and recreate.

Recent trends in water quality on Long Island have been troublesome. Toxic chemicals are contaminating drinking water supplies. Nitrogen levels in groundwater have risen by more than 60% in recent decades and coastal ecosystems have suffered. Since the late twentieth century, aerial coverage of critical marine habitats on Long Island such as eelgrass and salt marshes have declined by up to 80% and Long Island’s top shellfisheries have declined by up to 90%. In 2018, many of the factors driving these negative trajectories in shellfish and habitats were persistent problems.

Outbreaks of brown tides, rust tides, paralytic shellfish poison, toxic cyanobacterial blooms, hypoxia, and acidification were documented and are all occurrences directly and indirectly linked to excessive nitrogen loading. Emerging research suggests climate change is likely to significantly worsen all of these impairments in the near future, meaning significant and immediate actions are needed to mitigate these events.

Thankfully, multiple solutions to water quality impairments are emerging. ‘In the water’ remediation approach involving bivalves and seaweeds are showing promise for locally mitigating nitrogen loads and algal blooms. The New York State Shellfish Restoration Program will significant expand these efforts in the coming years. The New York State Clean Water Technology Center at Stony Brook University has identified cost-effective technologies to dramatically reduce nitrogen loads from individual homes and to coastal water bodies.

Implementation of such technologies coupled with ‘in the water’ solutions will be required to reverse the decadal negative trends in water quality and fisheries.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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