11-19-07 Science Advisory Board (sab) Hypoxia Panel Draft Advisory Report Do Not Cite or Quote




Название11-19-07 Science Advisory Board (sab) Hypoxia Panel Draft Advisory Report Do Not Cite or Quote
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Conclusion



This report constitutes the SAB Panel’s response to charge questions posed by the

EPA Office of Water. This Advisory reaffirms the major findings of the Integrated Assessment, while pointing out the need for economic incentives to encourage conservation in the Mississippi Atchafalaya River basin. Although the science has

grown, actions to control hypoxia have lagged. The SAB urges the EPA and other

agencies to utilize the recommendations of this Advisory and move ahead with implementing programs, strategies and policies to reduce the size of the hypoxic zone and improve water quality in the Mississippi Atchafalaya River basin.


Most of the research and monitoring needs identified in the Integrated Assessment have not been met, and fewer rivers and streams are monitored today than in 2000. The majority of monitoring recommendations in the Integrated Assessment remain relevant and should be heeded, specifically the CENR’s call to improve and expand monitoring of the temporal and spatial extent of hypoxia and the processes controlling its formation; the flux of nutrients, carbon, and other constituents from non-point sources throughout the MARB and to the NGOM; and measured (rather than estimated) nitrogen and phosphorus fluxes from municipal and industrial point sources. Echoing the CENR, the SAB Panel affirms the need for research on the ecological effects of hypoxia; watershed nutrient dynamics; effects of different agricultural practices on nutrient losses from land, particularly at the small watershed scale; nutrient cycling and carbon dynamics; long-term changes in hydrology and climate; and economic and social impacts of hypoxia. A suite of models is needed to simulate the processes and linkages that regulate the onset, duration and extent of hypoxia. Emerging coastal ocean observation and prediction systems should be encouraged to monitor dissolved oxygen and other physical and biogeochemical parameters needed to continue improving hypoxia models.


Although there are over 90 recommendations in this report, the following major recommendations reflect the SAB Panel’s consideration of the new science that has emerged since the Integrated Assessment.


To advance the science characterizing hypoxia and its causes, the SAB Panel finds that research is needed to:


  • collect and analyze additional sediment core data needed to develop a better understanding of spatial and temporal trends in hypoxia;




  • investigate freshwater plume dispersal, vertical mixing processes and stratification over the Louisiana-Texas continental shelf and Mississippi Sound, and use three-dimensional hydrodynamic models to study the consequences of past and future flow diversions to NGOM distributaries;




  • advance the understanding of biogeochemical and transport processes affecting the load of biologically available nutrients and organic matter to the Gulf of Mexico, and develop a suite of models that integrate physics and biogeochemistry;




  • elucidate the role of P relative to N in regulating phytoplankton production in various zones and seasons, and investigate the linkages between inshore primary production, offshore production, and the fate of carbon produced in each zone;




  • improve models that characterize the onset, volume, extent, and duration of the hypoxic zone, and develop modeling capability to capture the importance of P, N, and P-N interactions in hypoxia formation.


With respect to advancing the science on sources, fate and transport of nutrients, the SAB Panel finds that research is needed to:


  • develop models to simulate fluvial processes and estimate N and P transfer to stream channels under different management scenarios;




  • improve the understanding of temporal and seasonal nutrient fluxes and develop nutrient, sediment, and organic matter budgets within the MARB;


To enhance the scientific basis for implementation of management options, the SAB Panel finds that research is needed to:


  • examine the efficacy of dual nutrient control practices;




  • determine the extent, pattern, and intensity of agricultural drainage as well as opportunities to reduce nutrient discharge by improving drainage management;




  • integrate monitoring, modeling, experimental results, and ongoing management into an improved conceptual understanding of how the forces at key management scales influence the formation of the hypoxia zone; and




  • develop integrated economic and watershed models to support adaptive management at multiple scales.


To reduce the size of the hypoxic zone, the SAB Panel recommends at least a 45% reduction in N accompanied by a comparable reduction in P. The Panel found five areas that offer the most significant opportunities for N and P reductions:


  • promotion of environmentally sustainable approaches to biofuel production and associated cropping systems (e.g. perennials).




  • improved management of nutrients by emphasizing infield nutrient management efficiency and effectiveness to reduce losses;




  • construction and restoration of wetlands, as well as criteria for targeting those wetlands that may have a higher priority for reducing nutrient losses;




  • introduction of tighter N and P limits on municipal point sources; and




  • improved targeting of conservation buffers, including riparian buffers, filter strips and grassed waterways, to control surface-borne nutrients.


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