1 Hudson Plume Exploration - Institute of Marine and Coastal

Page 1 Plume Activity: Tracking the Hudson River Plume
So, we already learned from Brian that scientists like himself, need to know
where the plume is so they can track the pollution and chemicals it contains and
monitor the impacts on local marine life. Before you continue, first take a look at
some background information on the Hudson River.
1. Why do scientists want to track where the Hudson River Plume goes when it
reaches the bay?
2. What are some impacts of the Hudson River Plume on the bay?
Link to introductory video.
Somewhere on the page in a text box should read, “Want to learn more about
pollution in our oceans and what you can do in your very own backyard to help?
Discovery: The Pollution Solution!” When clicked on it should take the student to
the Discovery to read.
Picture that is the link to the Rutgers Science Hudson River Tutorial should be
placed on this page.
Page 2 Can you find the plume before it finds you?
Brian is researching how pollution (Examples of pollution sources include
sewage treatment plant waste matter, runoff from over fertilized lawns and
farms into a waterway, pollution in the air can be deposited on water
droplets which fall down as rain (i.e. acid rain), or sewage overflowing after
heavy rainflow) that runs off into the river plume can impact marine life off
the New Jersey coast. An excess of nutrients can cause blooms of algae
to occur, and when the algae die they are decomposed (decomposition is
the break down of certain types of materias) by bacteria. Just like you and I
need to breathe oxygen to live, some bacteria also need oxygen to live!
Sometimes, the oxygen can be used up by the bacteria more quickly than it
can be replaced, and when this happens hypoxic (extremely low-oxygen
conditions) can occur. This can drastically affect other oxygen breathing
organisms. Imagine what would happen if you were in a room and all the
oxygen was slowly removed! Sometimes hypoxia in the ocean can cause
marine life to die because of the lack of oxygen. New Jersey last had a
major fish kill due to hypoxia in 1976. This is one of the reasons scientists
like Brian need to continuously monitor water conditions in the Hudson
River Plume.
1. What are hypoxic conditions? What are some effects of hypoxia?
2. What is an example of a pollution source near you that could be running into a
river or stream?
Green text means that it is a definition and should not be included in the
text, but if the student clicks on or mousse over the term the definition
shows up.
Somewhere in a text box should be, “Want to find out more about Dead
Zones? Read this discovery on the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico.”
When students click on it they should be taken to the Discovery.
The picture of the instrument room aboard Cape Hatteras with the caption,
“The instrument room aboard the research vessel, the Cape Hatteras.”
The picture of the statue of liberty from the Cape Hatteras with the caption,
“The view on the Hudson River from the Cape Hatteras.”
The picture of the LATTE research team with the caption, “The LATTE
research team aboard the Cape Hatteras.”
Page 3 What is a Plume?
We keep discussing this thing called a plume. Have you stopped to ask yourself
if you know what a plume is? You have probably heard of a plume of smoke.
What characteristics does a plume of smoke have?
A plume can also be an area of water that is moving together and contaminated
with pollutants.
1. What do you think the plume formed by the pollutants in the Hudson River
looks like when it flows out into the bay? Describe it here and then draw your
2. What would happen if there was a strong wind? How would that affect the
Picture of a plume of smoke.
Page 4 Here’s Looking at you Plume
Now let’s see what the Hudson Plume actually looks like. Depending on wind
direction and speed, the plume can travel in different directions and for varying
1. How is the model you drew similar and how is it different from the actual
pictures of the Hudson River Plume?
2. Why do you think the plume water stays together as it flows out into the bay?
Here is a good spot to stop and let everyone catch up. You’re teacher is going to
have a small discussion with your class about why the food coloring in the one
video stayed together longer than in the other video and how this relates to the
way plumes look.
The Statue of Liberty animation should be on this page.
Show different pictures of the Hudson Plume
Link to video with food die being dropped into a glass of water and video of food
die mixed with sugar being dropped into a glass of water.
Page 5 The Answer is in the Salad Dressing!
Your teacher probably discussed with you that the reason the plume water does
not immediately mix with the bay water is because it is a different density than
the bay water. This is similar to what happens when you mix oil and vinegar to
make salad dressing. Because of the different densities of the liquids involved,
the vinegar and oil do not mix, and instead the oil forms a slick that floats on top
of the vinegar. Can you guess which liquid is denser in the salad dressing
example, the vinegar or the oil?
1. What factors do you think can affect the density of liquid?
2. Put these three bodies of water in order from the most dense to the least
dense: bay water, river water, ocean water. Then justify your answer.
Have a picture of oil mixed with vinegar. The oil and vinegar bottles should be in
the background so the students can see which is oil and which is the vinegar in
the solution.
Page 6 Demonstrating Water Density
1. What do you think will happen when salt water is dumped into fresh water?
(i.e. will it immediately mix, will it float on top, sink to the bottom, etc)
Link to video of salt water dumped into fresh water.
2. What did you observe? Was your prediction accurate? Why or why not?
3. What do you think will happen when the cold water is dumped into the warmer
water? (i.e. will it immediately mix, will it float on top, sink to the bottom, etc)
Link to video of cold water dumped into warm water
4. What did you observe? Was your prediction accurate? Why or why not?
5. What do you think would be the densest type of water? (i.e. Warm and salty?
Cold and fresh? etc.)
Link to video of cold/salty water dumped into warm fresh water
6. Was your prediction correct? If not, what is the densest type of water?
Page 7 Physical Data
The Hudson River Plume is chemically and physically very different from the
surrounding bay water. Two ways scientists try and distinguish plume water from
surrounding ocean water is to look at the salinity and temperature.
Because the plume is freshwater, salinity (or the amount of saltiness) in
the plume is much less than outside the plume. Coastal ocean salinity in
the Mid-Atlantic region is generally greater than 31 ppt (parts per
thousand) and salinity of the plume is generally less than 25 ppt. Similar
to oil and vinegar, ocean water and river water tend not to mix due to
these differences in salinity. Without getting mixed and diluted the plume
can travel far That’s why we can see the impacts of the plume sometimes
as far away as southern New Jersey (that’s over 100 miles!)
The surface water temperature of the plume and ocean water can be very
different. In spring for instance, because river and estuary water are much
shallower than ocean water it tends to warm up much faster than the
nearby ocean water. But then in the late fall and early winter the opposite
occurs. River water tends to cool down somewhat faster than the ocean
water, until winter when both become similarly cold.
1. Describe in detail, using the information you have just learned, how you would track
the Hudson River plume. Discuss what you will look for and how you will measure and
track it.
Have a text box that reads, “Want to learn more about the dead zone that happened off of
the coast of New Jersey? Click here!” and when the student clicks on it they are taken to
the discovery.
Have a text box that reads, “Click on Discovery: Water World to learn more about the
properties of water” and when the student clicks on it they are taken to the discovery.
Clip art pictures of a thermometer and salt shaker
A picture of the Hudson River and a picture of the Hudson River Plume should be on this
Let’s Get to Know Our Fellow Scientists a Little Better
Meet Brian Gaas. Brian is a pretty cool guy. He’s from Texas. He is a certified
emergency medical technician, likes to compose classical music, explore caves
on land and also is a certified cave diver. That’s a person who not only explores
underground caves, but has to sometimes dive underwater to get to them!
Brian is also a marine microbiologist and was the marine technician aboard the
R/V Cape Hatteras during a recent scientific experiment off the coast of NJ. He
was in charge of collecting the data you are about to view.
1. How are Brian and his team of researchers collecting their data?
2. What does Brian and his team hope to learn from the data they are collecting?
Now, you will look at data for salinity and temperature, as well as the date
and time the measurements were taken and the location of the boat to help
Brian track the plume.
The picture of Brian using the enzyme analyzer should go here with the caption,
“Brian in the lab working with using a machine that can help him track the plume.”
The picture of Brian and his friend in their wetsuits with a caption that reads,
“Brian and a friend before a caving expedition.”
Link to video of the interview with Brian should be on this page.