Coastal Studies Institute scientists and research partners headed back to the Currituck Sound last week to complete field surveys and data collection as part of the ongoing research study called Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Evaluation in Currituck Sound (SAVE Currituck Sound). The two-year project, headed by CSI scientist Dr. Reide Corbett in collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility and Continental Shelf Associates, Inc. and funded by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), seeks to quantify changes in submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) distribution and evaluate the processes driving these changes through time.
The field data collected during the recent work in the Sound includes water quality parameters (chlorophyll, salinity and temperature), sediment samples, and two different field methods of SAV coverage analysis. Researchers also installed two monitoring platforms in the northern and southern regions of the sound to measure waves, currents and the same water quality parameters. In addition, light attenuation sensors were installed within the study sites to determine sunlight availability needed for primary production and growth of the SAV.
Back in the lab, researchers are conducting further analysis on sediment grain size to categorize bottom type, and using water samples to measure total suspended sediment (TSS). Throughout the study, they will also draw from historical data from the 1950’s, 70’s and 90’s to identify changes in these parameters as well as shoreline change through time. The study continues until October 2019 and will play a role in developing and refining the mitigation measures to be taken by NCDOT in low salinity, water-dependent projects where SAV is a critical part of aquatic ecosystems.
For more information about this study, visit the SAVE Currituck Sound project page.