PREP Reports & Publications


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the temperature, salinity, turbidity, and light attenuation characteristics throughout the Great Bay Estuary System during 1974-1978. In contrast to previous studies within the Estuary (Norall and Mathieson, 1976, Daly and Mathieson, in preparation) only physical parameters were measured and they were measured at more frequent (1 meter) vertical intervals. Such information is important to future coastal zone management and to ultimate understanding of the estuarine ecosystem. The Great Bay Estuary System is a dynamic habitat with pronounced spatial and temporal variations of hydrographic factors. Accordingly, locations furthest from the coast experience the most freshwater influence and the least oceanic influence. In some sites there are "salt wedges" resulting in physical variability with depth. Seasonality is apparent in the amount of freshwater input, detrital input, and temperature variation. The volume of freshwater entering the Estuary is greatest during spring runoff when precipitation is low and evaporation high. As the volume of water in the Estuary changes tidal currents, the amount of fresh water input may affect turbidity and light attenuation, as well as salinity.

The present study evaluates three sources of physical variation in the Estuary: 1) location, 2) season, and 3) depth. Data collected between July, 1974 and June, 1978, along with some simple statistical interpretations, are presented herein.


Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership, Jackson Estuarine Laboratory

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