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Importance of monitoring

The June July August 2020 issue of All Animals included an article about the necessity of local water quality monitoring, specifically monitoring for cyanobacteria. Some cyanobacteria is toxic, whether inhaled, consumed, or touched as seen in the case of this article. In the Paerl Lab, we have monitored for cyanobacteria in multiple ways to help maintain healthy waterways throughout the past few decades.  This sad story in the All Animals issue occurred not far from our local area, so please stress to your local, state, and federal government the need to improve and maintain our waterways through funded reserach!

Dr. Paerl spoke with Spectrum News

Dr. Paerl spoke with Spectrum News about how major storm events are not only becoming more frequent, but precipitation is also increasing. Lasting impacts are observed in waterways as they receive nutrients washed away from the land causing increased and fast algal growth.

Dr. Paerl suggests to “make sure your septic system is working really well. Not over fertilizing your lawns, especially not ahead of a major storm event” to prevent excessive nutrient run-off and algal growth in waters we drink, play in, and enjoy.

Paerl Lab research featured in Coastwatch magazine

The Fall 2020 issue of Coastwatch (NC Sea Grant magazine) features some of the long-term water quality research performed in the Paerl lab. The article, titled “Science Needs You“,  highlights the necessity for research of the second largest estuarine complex in the United States and how you can help accomplish the goal of continued research  to track the health of the Neuse River Estuary.  Whether you live locally or visit the area’s beaches or protected forests, you can make an impact to improve the land and water we enjoy!

This article features a chapter from Dr. Paerl’s water quality monitoring book, North Carolina Science Adventures for the Everyday Explorer: Thirty Great Places to Learn About Environmental Science in Our State. Check it out for other fascinating information about the Neuse River Estuary region!

Big THANKS to NC Sea Grant for highlighting our important work!

Wei Jin farewell

Good-bye Wei Jin! The Paerl lab has had the pleasure of having visiting Phd Student, Wei Jin, from China for the past two years. We are sad to see you go and wish you the best as you finish your degree back home. Safe travels!


Neuse River update

Hi all,

August 5th was a couple days after Hurricane Isaias made landfall and tracked across the Neuse River watershed.  On August 5th, stratification was much weaker than two week’s prior. It appears that the major impact of Isaias was wind mixing. Hypoxic/ anoxic bottom waters were not observed. There wasn’t a lot of precipitation associated with Isaias and that’s reflected in the moderate salinity levels and the salt wedge extending upstream all the way to New Bern. There were moderate intensity (chl a ~30 ug/L) subsurface peaks in chlorophyll a at stations 60 and 120.

Since, August 5th the Neuse flow has steadily increased to near flood stages. Part of this may be due to Isaias but most is likely due to a rash of high precip. thunderstorms centered over the upper Neuse basin. We’ll see how the estuary responds to the flow increase during the next sampling.

Stay well,


Neuse River Update

Hi all,

The recent dry conditions have allowed salinity to creep up to New Bern in the bottom waters. The estuary is still highly stratified from New Bern downstream to station 120. True anoxic conditions occurred from New Bern to station 100, just upstream of the bend at Minnesott/ Cherry Branch. Bottom waters in this area smelled strongly of sulfur indicating that there was essentially no oxygen present. Elevated chlorophyll a occurred at the surface at station 50, and as a subsurface chlorophyll maximum downstream to station 120. Microscopic observation of surface water from station 50 indicated the bloom was a mix of small centric diatoms and nanoflagellates. The nanoflagellates were hard to identify but their morphology wasn’t consistent with any types of particular concern, e.g. toxin producing dinoflagellates.

Stay well,


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