Factors Controlling Salinity in Nearshore Waters of the Mississippi Sound, MS

Author(s): Swarzenski, C.; Mize, S.

Magnitude and variability of salinity of shallow waters shape estuarine living resources and habitat. The salinity gradient is widely recognized as foundational in maintaining biological diversity and productivity of estuaries. Thus, a clear understanding of the factors controlling salinity and variability of salinity in estuarine surface waters is essential for proper stewardship and for sustaining ecological structure and function. Salinity of estuaries is controlled by freshwater inflows, estuarine circulation and climate (storms, episodic droughts and trends in precipitation). To better understand the factors governing salinity and its variability in the Mississippi Sound, the U.S. Geological Survey is compiling all available current and historic salinity data. This effort will assist scientists in understanding the effects of current and future restoration projects on salinity and salinity variability in the Mississippi Sound. Such projects include the current efforts to rejoin Ship Island, which will affect water circulation patterns, and the implementation of massive river diversions into the Breton Sound basin in Louisiana, which will add considerable amounts of freshwater to the nearshore waters of the Mississippi Sound.

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