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on the Bay


The Hydraulics of a Hot Spot

Underwater Weather

Brush Receives Medal

New Science Writer

Leffler Takes His Leave

Snakeheads Go
Beyond the Pond

Bad Year for Bay Grasses

This Issue's Videos:
New Tools for the

Finding Gold at the
Bottom of the Bay

Bill Boicourt standing in from of the RV Cape Henlopen - by Michael W. Fincham
Bill Boicourt, in front of the R.V. Cape Henlopen, before a research cruise. By Michael W. Fincham.
A Bay in Motion

Estuaries are perhaps the most complex of coastal systems. The mixing of streams of fresh and saltwater driven by the flow of rivers and tides is then confounded by wind, the passage of storms, and a submarine topography of deep channels, sills and the abundant shallows that are so critical to life in the Chesapeake Bay. Superimposed onto this Bay in motion are the longer cycles of drought and flood that in the past few years have had such a profound impact. Our heavily populated watershed - a human dominated ecosystem - faces growing urban and suburban development and an evolving agricultural landscape that continues to contribute nutrients and sediments. These stressors have meant an increase in the extent and duration of oxygen depletion (anoxia) in Bay waters during 2003 - as we go to press, the outlook for the coming summer appears to be similar if not worse. To understand what this means, it is important to understand how this Bay works, or in other words, to understand the context - both physically and biologically - within which human impacts and ecological responses play out.

In this issue of Chesapeake Quarterly, Michael Fincham tells the story of two scientists whose careers are linked by an academic lineage and a deep commitment to understanding the physical structure of this estuary. Beginning his work in the Bay in the 1940s, Donald Pritchard defined the very fundamentals of how estuarine circulation works - an accomplishment of great importance both here in Chesapeake Bay and to all estuaries worldwide. His student, William Boicourt, has advanced from this foundation to develop a much more detailed picture of the subtle mechanisms and control points that regulate flow and impact biological function. Over the course of two scientific generations, these researchers have helped us to understand how the Bay functions on time scales from days, to seasons to years. Equally as important, both have been willing and active participants in the process to inform policymakers, managers and the public at large - engagement in the best sense of the word.     Read more . . .

Jonathan Kramer
Maryland Sea Grant

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