Total Suspended Solids
How have total suspended solids (TSS) in the Great Bay Estuary changed over time?
Suspended solids at Adams Point show a statistically significant trend since 1989. At the Great Bay Station, there is no statistically significant trend in the data going back to 2002.
More research is necessary to understand the source and transport of sediments in the Great Bay Estuary. For example, decreases in eelgrass and oyster habitats lead to greater resuspension of sediments, but sediments may also be added to the estuary from the tributaries or the estuary shores.
Higher suspended solids concentrations have the potential to harm eelgrass and oysters. Anything that reduces light to eelgrass leaves can add stress. In addition, sediment build-up on leaves can inhibit gas exchange. Oyster monitoring efforts show that oyster reefs that do not build high enough above the estuary floor can be smothered by sediment deposits.
It is important to acknowledge however, that a certain amount of sediment supply is necessary to maintain salt marsh elevations and sediment supply is a key factor in determining salt marsh resilience to rising sea levels and potential migration.