Assessing the effectiveness of the Neuse nitrogen TMDL program and its impacts on estuarine chlorophyll dynamics
Coastal eutrophication is a complex process that is caused largely by anthropogenic nutrient enrichment. Estuaries are particularly susceptible to nutrient impairment, owing to their intimate connection with the contributing watersheds. Estuaries experiencing accelerating eutrophication are subject to a loss of key ecological functions and services. This doctoral dissertation presents the development and implementation of an integrated approach toward assessing the water quality in the Neuse Estuary following the implementation of the total maximum daily load (TMDL) program in the Neuse River basin. In order to accomplish this task, I have developed a series of water quality models and modeling strategies that can be effectively used in assessing nutrient based eutrophication. Two watershed-level nutrient loading models that operate on a different temporal scale are developed and used to quantify nitrogen loading to the Neuse Estuary over time. The models are used to probabilistically assess the success of the adopted mitigation measures in achieving the 30 % load reduction goal stipulated by the TMDL. Additionally, a novel structure learning approach is adopted to develop a Bayesian Network (BN) model that describes chlorophyll dynamics in the Upper Neuse Estuary. The developed BN model is compared to pre-TMDL models to assess any changes in the role that nutrient loading and physical forcings play in modulating chlorophyll levels in that section of the estuary. Finally, a set of empirical models are developed to assess the water quality monitoring program in the estuary, while also exploring the possibility of incorporating remotely sensed satellite data in an effort to augment the existing in-situ monitoring programs.
Water Resource Management
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