Dissolved oxygen dynamics in Charlotte Harbor and its contributing watershed, in response to hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Jeanne—Impacts and recovery
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On August 13, 2004, Hurricane Charley came ashore in the Charlotte Harbor watershed. Surface winds at the time of landfall were estimated at 130 knots. The track of the hurricane roughly followed the floodplain of the Peace River, causing massive defoliation and mortality of native vegetation and planted citrus groves, as well as substantial damage to human habitation and various infrastructure elements. Eight days after landfall, a water quality monitoring effort documented hypoxic (<2 mg I−1) to nearly anaerobic (<0.5 mg I−1) dissolved oxygen (DO) values throughout the vast majority of the Peace River's c. 6,000 km2 watershed. Low DO values appeared to be related to high values of both dissolved organic matter and suspended materials. Hypoxic conditions in Charlotte Harbor itself, occurred within 2 wk of landfall. Approximately 3 wk after the landfall of Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Frances struck the east coast of Florida, causing further wind damage and bringing substantial amounts of rain to the Charlotte Harbor watershed. Three weeks later still, Hurricane Jeanne caused similar damage to the same area. In response to the combined effects of these three hurricanes, DO values in the Peace River did not recover to pre-hurricane levels until approximately 2–3 mo later. The spatial and temporal pattern of DO fluctuations appeared to be related to the proximity of sampling locations to the path of the eyewall of the first of the three hurricanes. Within the Harbor itself, the duration of hypoxic conditions was less than that recorded within the Peace River, perhaps reflecting greater dilution of oxygen-poor waters from the watershed with less-affected water from the Gulf of Mexico.
KeywordsHypoxic Condition Total Suspended Solid Dissolve Organic Matter Wind Damage Charlotte Harbor
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