Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mapping sea level rise and storm surge in the Chesapeake Bay

The Huntington News: The Chesapeake Bay region is one of the most vulnerable areas in the nation to sea level rise induced by climate change, trailing only parts of Louisiana, Florida, Texas and North Carolina in national assessments, and a new state-of-the-art map and website unveiled today by The Conservation Fund show just what that means for the Bay’s natural resources and public infrastructure.

Sea level is predicted to rise steadily along the East Coast due to a changing climate, which, along with periodic storm surge, could result in shoreline erosion, coastal flooding, salt water intrusion of freshwater resources and inundation of some coastal areas. With more than 11,600 miles of coastline along its main body of water and tidal tributaries, the Chesapeake Bay is at risk.

Natural resource managers and decision makers are grappling with the scope of this problem and are developing strategies to adapt to future predicted changes. Rising waters and potential storms could profoundly impact the way in which we determine appropriate areas for conservation and development.

“The purpose of these resources is to raise awareness of one of the most significant threats that climate change poses to natural and human infrastructure in the Bay region, and to help communities respond and adapt to its impacts,” said Erik Meyers, vice president of Sustainable Programs for The Conservation Fund. “Until now, there hasn’t been a reliable and easily accessible educational resource available for students, professionals, businesses and governments to explore the phenomena. We were pleased to work with the National Geographic Society and a group of experts from around the Bay to produce visually oriented, education tools that go beyond simply reading about it.”

The new National Geographic map and website describe the threats that sea level rise and storm surge pose to the environment, wildlife and our roads, buildings and houses, and provides a Bay-wide visualization identifying low-lying threatened areas. They also provide snap shots of high-resolution inundation models for Washington, D.C., Dorchester County, Maryland, and Virginia Beach, Virginia. The website address is: www.chesapeakeadaptation.org....

From 1869, the steamship Arrowsmith on Chesapeake Bay

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