• A personal note on IGBP and the social sciences

    Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .

Elucidating terrestrial nutrient sources to a coastal lagoon, Chincoteague Bay, Maryland, USA

Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science (2013)

Fertig B M, O’Neil J M, Beckert K A, Cain C J, Needham D M, Carruthers T J B and Dennison W C

DOI: 10.1016/j.ecss.2012.08.013

Vol 116, Issue 1, pp 1-10


Long-term non-linear ecosystem-scale changes in water quality and biotic communities in coastal lagoons have been associated with intensification of anthropogenic pressures. In light of incipient changes in Johnson Bay (an embayment of Chincoteague Bay, Maryland-Virginia, USA), examination of nitrogen sources was conducted through synoptic water quality monitoring, stable nitrogen isotope signatures (δ15N) of in situbioindicators, and denitrification estimates. These data were placed in the context of long-term and broader spatial analyses. Despite various watershed protection efforts, multiyear summer time studies (2004–2007) suggested that high levels of terrestrially derived nutrients still enter Johnson Bay. Total nitrogen concentrations in Johnson Bay were 132% the concentrations in the broader Chincoteague Bay during the late 1970s (mean 2004–2007 was 40.0 – 73.2 μM). Comparing total nitrogen concentrations in Johnson Bay to St. Martin River (consistently the most eutrophic region of these coastal bays), Johnson Bay has increased from 62.5% to 82.5% of the concentrations in St. Martin River during the late 1970s. Though specific sources of nitrogen inputs have not yet been definitively identified, the long-term increase in total nitrogen concentrations occurred despite increased and continued conservation and protection measures. We suggest that investigating nutrient sources can reveal potentially ineffective nutrient policies and that this knowledge can be applied towards other coastal lagoons.

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