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Volume 3, Number 2
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A Tale of Two Years

color-coded charts of algal concentrations for 4/30/2000 and 4/29/2001.  The algal concentration thoughout the Bay is twice the amount in 2000 than in 2001.
bar chart of cumulative flow Jan-April (m sq per sec) with 2000 at 5500 and 2001 with 4900
Color-coded for ease of visualization, these charts of the Chesapeake show two very different days at the end of April. In 2000, a year with high river flow from January through April, relatively dense algal concentrations (shown in green) are detected by aircraft-borne sensors. The next year, with lower flows from January to April, those same sensors see much clearer water, represented here in blue and purple. Like a biological bellwether, the southern Bay in particular responds quickly to shifts in nutrient loads. In low-flow years the Bay begins to resemble its past, when fewer nutrients left waters clearer and when light penetrated down to rooted underwater plants.

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