Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chesapeake Bay in danger from sea level rise

Baltimore Sun: More than half the beaches on Maryland's Eastern Shore will be destroyed over this century by rising sea levels driven by global warming, a new report concludes. The study by the National Wildlife Federation says the outlook wouldn't be as bad if local governments hadn't allowed so much development along the shoreline, preventing beaches from shifting inland as water levels rise.

As more people build condos, roads and rock walls along the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic seaboard, the rising sea levels will shrink the amount of space remaining for beaches and wetlands. And diamondback terrapin and other animals will be devastated by the loss of habitat, the report says.

"This report shows just how vulnerable the Chesapeake Bay, a national treasure, is to global warming," said Beth McGee, a scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. "Global warming threatens the very way of life and existence of watermen communities."

The report is based on calculations by a United Nations panel of climate experts that predict global sea levels will rise up to 27 inches by the year 2100. The accumulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere - mostly from industry - is acting like an insulating blanket around the Earth, melting glaciers and expanding the volume of water in the oceans.

…A consultant for the National Wildlife Foundation took the projections and used a computerized model to calculate what they could mean for marshes and shorelines around the Chesapeake Bay....

The Thomas Point Lighthouse, Chesapeake Bay, shot by Pete Milnes of the US Coast Guard, Wikimedia Commons

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