Erosion, Suspended Solids and Submerged Aquatic Vegetation in the Little Choptank River

Principal Investigator:

Lawrence P. Sanford

Start/End Year:

2005 - 2008


Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Co-Principal Investigator:

Evamaria W. Koch, Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; Jeffrey P. Halka, Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Geological Survey


Objectives: The objectives of this study are 1) to investigate links and feedbacks between waves, tides, shoreline erosion, nearshore turbidity, and SAV in a coordinated, interdisciplinary study of two sites in the lower Little Choptank River; 2) to collaborate and cooperate with other research/monitoring efforts in the Little Choptank during 2005 and 2006; and 3) to communicate our findings to the Chesapeake Bay management groups interested in shoreline erosion and SAV habitat, and disseminate our findings to the general Chesapeake Bay community through public seminars. Methodology: A combination of field surveys and modeling will be used to address our objectives. Seasonal field surveys will quantify temporal variability in hydrodynamic characteristics, shoreline erosion, sediment resuspension, light availability and SAV health (physiology and epiphytic loading) at two sites in the Little Choptank River. More detailed data will be obtained during a 5-d study at both sites in both years, as well as a 2-week wave measurement deployment late in the first year. These data will then be used to expand and validate a nearshore model linking waves, shoreline erosion, TSS, SAV and light. Rationale: The Chesapeake 2000 agreement calls for the need to "characterize direct and indirect threats to SAV including shoreline erosion and tidal resuspension, and develop and implement new best management practices and protection measures, as necessary". However, there are very few data and only rudimentary models of these relationships. The outcome of the proposed project will serve as a guideline for the extent of shoreline stabilization needed in order to protect adjacent SAV beds. The project also affords significant opportunities to enhance other data collection efforts in the Little Choptank River in 2005-2006 and, in turn, to benefit from those efforts.

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