Tracing Sound Inputs via Groundwater
New York Coastlines, Spring 2009

It’s well understood that too much nitrogen in the water is not healthy for aquatic life in Long Island Sound. But until now it’s been hard to estimate how much nitrogen has actually been coming from submarine groundwater discharge (SGD), particularly along the sandy sediments off LI’s north shore. In a newly funded project, Drs. J. Kirk Cochran and Henry J. Bokuniewicz of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS), Stony Brook University, will use naturally occurring radioactive isotopes to gauge the impact of this groundwater discharge, enabling planners to better reach their goals of improving water quality for Long Island Sound.

In a recently completed NYSG funded project, these same researchers looked at SGD into Jamaica Bay, NY. Although only a relatively small fraction of the total nitrogen that goes into the Bay via sewage treatment facilities, SGD provides the Bay with an unseen (and uncontrolled) source from both the leakage of groundwater from land and from the recirculation of seawater through the Bay’s sediments.

At press time we learned that the SUNY Board of Trustees has named SoMAS Professor Henry Bokuniewicz to the title of Distinguished Service Professor, the highest honor that SUNY bestows upon faculty. Hearty congratulations, Dr. Bokuniewicz!

— Barbara A. Branca

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