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Specialists discuss Tropical Storms Irene and Lee’s impacts on Hudson River

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Albany/HV: Specialists discuss Tropical Storms Irene and Lee’s impacts on Hudson River
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Specialists met at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook to explore impacts of Tropical Storms Irene and Lee on the Hudson River. As YNN’s Alexandra Weishaupt tells us, the natural disasters had both short term and long term effects on the river’s ecosystem.

MILLBROOK, N.Y. -- “Events like this don’t just affect one part of the river,” said Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies Aquatic Ecologist Stuart Findlay. “It’s everything from the water shed down to New York City.”

Two tropical storms in August 2011 dropped an estimated 12 to 18 inches of rainfall, disrupting many lives in the region and causing ecological impacts on the Hudson River.

“There was about 1.75 million tons of sediment that got trapped in the Hudson River between Poughkeepsie and the green island dam,” said NY Water Science Center Hydrologist Gary Wall.

Those muddied waters lingered for several months and all the salt from the estuary was washed out into the ocean.

“For the first time I’ve ever known, the Hudson River through its whole length was just a river and it had no salt water in it, so it wasn’t an estuary,” said Stevens Institute of Technology Research Scientist Philip Orton.

Experts say this coupled with the water cooling due to the rainfall from the mountains changed the system dramatically. And while this has settled for the most part, effects on plants and fish has not.

“The abundance of the rooted plants in the river is way down this year compared to last year. These plants are an important habitat for fishes and have positive effects on water quality and could take several years to recover,” said Findlay.

“There tended to be fewer fish in the estuary, the growth rates tended to be slower than in a normal year and they tended to be found further down river than in a normal year,” said Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies Aquatic Ecologist David Strayer.

And these specialists are hoping that by bringing their different elements of research together, they'll build a bigger picture of their understanding of the impacts of tropical storms Irene and Lee, helping them ready for the next big storm.

“Since its likely there will be more events like this in the future what can we do better to be prepared because this is not the last time we’re going to see this sort of thing,” said Findlay.

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