Impact of the 2021 Freeze Event on Baffin Bay Water Quality

Principal Investigator

In February 2021, the state of Texas experienced a prolonged freeze event. Dr. Michael Wetz, HRI Chair for Coastal Ecosystem Processes, is conducting water quality sampling in Baffin Bay to monitor impacts of the freeze on water quality in Baffin Bay.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department estimates a minimum of 3.8 million fish were killed throughout the Texas coast as a result of the event. The last freeze of similar magnitude, also resulting in an extensive fish kill, occurred in 1989 and was follow by a prolonged, multi-year brown tide event in Baffin Bay, possibly caused by excess nutrient inputs from decomposing organisms killed by the freeze, among other factors.

To monitor the impacts of the February 2021 freeze on water quality and to better understand the response and recovery of the Baffin Bay estuary to such an event, this project will collect and analyze water quality samples for the period of May through August 2021. A final summary report is anticipated for April 2022.