Mr. Robert Newton
Earth Institute Contact: Mr. Robert Newton
The Hudson River Estuary is an aquatic ecosystem in recovery. Nearly three decades after the banning of PCB, DDT and other chlorinated pollutants, fish populations are rebounding. Even bald eagles, who rely on healthy fish populations, have returned to the Palisades Cliffs. However, a more subtle challenge, high levels of nutrients such as phosphate and nitrogen compounds, continues to threaten the long-term recovery of the Estuary. Excess nutrient fluxes to the estuary can lead to algae blooms and suffocating eutrophic conditions. Nutrients come from a variety of sources, but in the lower Hudson, are dominated by discharges from waste-water treatment plants. They are thus susceptible to regulation, given appropriate understanding of the highly variable distributions of nutrients and their consequences.
Nutrient fluxes to and within the estuary are highly variable, both spatially and in time, depending on a complex interaction of natural variations and human activity. Estimation of current conditions and trends requires collecting long time series, with reasonable spatial resolution. To address this requirement, we are conducting a multi-year program sampling in the Hudson River and Piermont Marsh, 10 miles north of New York City, collecting water, particulate, bacterial, floral, nekton and soil samples. In the summer, the program engages Lamont researchers and grad students along with teams of interns to achieve broad coverage.