Chesapeake Hypoxic Duration Shorter than Usual in 2022

Submitted by admin on 01/25/2023

The remnants of Hurricane Ian affected the Chesapeake Bay at the beginning of October 2022. The strong winds the system brought churned up the Bay. This mixing of the water added oxygen into the deeper channels of the Bay, and resulted in an earlier-than-usual end to hypoxia (very low oxygen conditions). That’s good news for fish and other living resources that need oxygen to survive. But challenges remain for some species, including striped bass and blue crab.

This is one of the ways that water conditions can affect living resources that is described in the Fall 2022 Seasonal Summary. For this report, produced every season, NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office scientists examine environmental data to determine how Bay conditions compared to average. They also explore how deviations from average may have affected living resources in the Bay.

Overall, in fall 2022, the Bay experienced: 

  • Above-average water temperatures
  • Shorter than usual duration of hypoxia
  • Above-average salinities

Salinity observations at the Annapolis CBIBS buoy from September to November 2022 (blue line) relative to the average at each buoy over this seasonal period from 2007 to 2021 (red line). The shaded area represents the range of observations (minimum to maximum) over the time period. Note the brief drop in salinity in early October, likely resulting from the freshwater flows from Ian’s rainfall.

The above-average water temperatures may have delayed the striped bass migration to the lower Bay at the end of fall. They also may have encouraged juvenile summer flounder to spend more time in the Chesapeake Bay.

Above-average salinity (even with the fresh water from Ian’s rainfall) may have provided a boost for oysters. Higher salinity often results in higher juvenile oyster abundance.

For more information on fall 2022 conditions and how they may have affected living resources in the Chesapeake Bay, see the full fall 2022 scientific seasonal summary.