CHAPEL HILL, N.C., May 30 (UPI) -- The spate of hurricanes that hit North Carolina during the past decade produced ecological effects that lasted long after flood waters receded.
A study by marine scientists at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and other institutions suggests effects such as enhanced growth conditions for potentially harmful algae, low oxygen levels in bottom waters, and declines in some fisheries lasted as long as three years after a storm such as 1999's Hurricane Floyd.
The study leader, Hans Paerl, Kenan professor of marine and environmental sciences at UNC's Institute of Marine Sciences, said the period of elevated hurricane activity that began in 1995 added yet another stressor to waterways already affected by man-made nutrient over-enrichment and degradation of fisheries habitat.
"With another above-normal hurricane season predicted for the north Atlantic this year, the study points to the need for adaptive ecosystem management approaches to accommodate these large-scale events over long time spans," said Paerl.
Paerl and colleagues detail those and other findings in a study to be published this fall in a special issue of Estuaries and Coasts, the journal of the Estuarine Research Foundation.