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Science Initiatives

CMOP uses the concept of "estuarine bioreactor” as the summation of the effects of the ecological hotspots, ocean-estuary exchanges and river forcing on nutrient cycles and energy flow at an ecosystem scale.

 lateral bays, estuarine turbidity maxima, and plankton blooms.
This figure shows how the function of the Columbia River estuarine bioreactor is controlled by three biological hotspots: lateral bays, estuarine turbidity maxima, and plankton blooms.
In an attempt to make significant progress in this complicated system, we have organized the CMOP research effort around four science initiatives:

I - Estuarine Hypoxia and Acidification
Determine how the estuarine bioreactor acts to modify the ecological effects of ocean acidification and hypoxia on an upwelling-influenced river-dominated coastal margin.
Learn more about the Estuarine Hypoxia and Acidification initiative.

II – Plankton Blooms
Advance mechanistic understanding of (a) how red water species (in particular, Mesodinium rubrum) exploit the small-scale physics and nutritional environment to bloom in a large river-dominated estuary; (b) the molecular mechanisms behind bloom proliferation and controls on cryptic diversity within plankton blooms; and (c) the role of blooms in mitigating estuarine hypoxia.
Learn more about the Plankton Blooms initiative.

III - Lateral Bays
Characterize and quantify the biogeochemical exchange between lateral bays and the estuary, and to develop approaches and models to quantify the contribution of these exchanges to the functioning of the estuarine bioreactor.
Learn more about the Lateral Bays initiative.

IV - Estuarine Turbidity Maxima
Advance the understanding of ETM physical and biogeochemical processes in order to refine our theoretical understanding of ETM dynamics and contribution to the function of the estuarine bioreactor.
Learn more about the Estuarine Turbidity Maxima initiative.