Updates to How CBIBS Tracks Water Quality Parameters

Submitted by admin on 08/22/2022

As technology evolves, so does CBIBS! We are implementing changes to the equipment we use to track water-quality parameters at the buoys. 

Previously, we have used sensors that observed water temperature, salinity, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, and chlorophyll. Several of these parameters are derived optically. And with the biological growth that can obscure these sensors—especially in summertime—that means frequent maintenance trips and/or unreliable data. 

The CBIBS team decided that having a few parameters reporting in a highly dependable manner would be better than having more parameters reporting unreliably. As the old sensors age out, we are replacing them with sensors that will track only water temperature and salinity.

We are also partnering with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia to place sensors that measure turbidity and dissolved oxygen, in addition to water temperature and salinity, at two to three CBIBS locations.

In addition, we are teaming up with the Chesapeake Bay Program to pilot a new way to  track dissolved oxygen at key points in the Bay. We are operating small buoys at two locations in the middle part of the Bay—one in 20 feet and the other in 66 feet of water. These buoys are equipped with dissolved oxygen sensors every 6.5 feet through the water column, allowing for the continuous tracking of oxygen levels from the surface to the bottom.This gives us a more meaningful data set, as the CBIBS buoys’ dissolved oxygen sensors only tracked levels a few feet below the surface of the water.

Next year, we plan to deploy five to seven dissolved oxygen buoys at locations throughout the Bay. This data will help scientists model how dissolved oxygen levels change over time and space, and also helps scientists evaluate the effects of low dissolved oxygen levels (hypoxia) on Bay species. We plan to have this data available here at the CBIBS website in the future.

All CBIBS stations will continue to measure and report meteorological and oceanographic data, including wind speed, air temperature, and wave height.