Neuse River Estuary conditions 12 January 2022

Hi all,

Happy New Year! I hope everyone is having a good one so far and staying healthy.

After a progressively dryer fall and early winter, rains in the first week of the year have put Neuse River flows at near normal levels (at least based on flows at Kinston, the USGS gage at Fort Barnwell is still not reporting). The salt wedge had been upstream of station 0 at Streets Ferry Bridge back in December but is now somewhere just upstream of New Bern between stations 20 and 30. This location for the tip of the salt wedge is still unusually far upstream for January, and the estuary in general is still much saltier than normal with downstream salinity at about 20. Suspended sediment from the high river flow is apparent as a region of elevated turbidity (> 20 NTU) at the upstream, freshwater stations that gradually diminishes in the surface waters downstream to station 70. Dissolved oxygen conditions were normoxic or supersaturated throughout most of the estuary. A slight dissolved oxygen sag was evident in the bottom water at the tip of the saltwedge at station 30 but the levels of ~6 mg/L are sufficient for estuarine animals. Generally, chlorophyll fluorescence was low (<10 ug/L) but a subsurface zone of elevated chlorophyll (~20 ug/L) occurred at stations 60 and 70 at ~ 1 m depth. It’s likely that this is the beginning of the annual Prorocentrum minimum bloom, a dinoflagellate that is considered harmful to some shellfish but hasn’t been shown to cause problems in the Neuse. With the recent nutrient inputs from elevated flows, the bloom size and intensity will likely increase over the next couple of months. Next time I’ll look at samples and take some pictures.


ModMon & FerryMon funded

ModMon and FerryMon have been refunded on the State’s biennial budget, continuing the decades of water quality research on the Neuse River and surrounding areas. Please contact Karen ( for data requests.

$133K EEG award to Paerl Lab as co-investigators

Attorney General Josh Stein awarded a $133,000 Environmental Enhancement Grant (EEG) to Renzun Zhao, Ph.D., at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. The funding will support research that explores how dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) found in liquid waste generated from landfills might impact water sources in the eastern part of the state. Zhao will collaborate with Hans Paerl and Christopher Osburn, Ph.D., at North Carolina State University.

Many more bioassays are in store for the Paerl lab beginning in 2022! Article here




IE Student Leah

This fall semester there are a few IE students that have come from the UNC main campus to work with the Paerl Lab as they live and study on the coast. One of those students is Leah, who will be working on a Nutrient and Aerosol bioassay. We look forward to seeing her results at the end of the semester!

Busy times are here again

It has been a busy summer field season for the Paerl lab! Recently Intern Will finished up his time with our lab by learning essential lab skills and investigating water from a bloom on the Chowan River in Eastern NC. The water sample was nicknamed “creature of the deep” for it’s dark green color by graduate student Malcolm Barnard.


Research at Lake Erie 2021

This past week, some members of the Paerl lab traveled up to Put-In-Bay, Ohio on Lake Erie to conduct groundbreaking bioassays and aerosol investigations! Graduate students, Malcolm Barnard and Haley Plaas, were busy during the week and look forward to sharing their results soon! BIG thank you to scientists from the University of Toledo, University of Tennessee, the Ohio State University, and Bowling Green State University for their assistance during the course of the week! Check out the photos below for science being enriching and fun!



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