Bay Journal

Topics: Climate Change

Report: ‘Sunny day’ floods a rising threat in Chesapeake region

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A new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report shows that rising seas are inducing high-tide or “sunny day” flooding, striking a median of five days last year at nearly 100 coastal locations, tying the record set in 2015.

The problem was worse in the Northeast, which includes the Chesapeake watershed. The report, released on July 10, showed this region with a median of 10 days of high-tide flooding.

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About Climate Change

The Chesapeake Bay was formed 10,000 years ago as a warming climate melted vast ice sheets, raising ocean levels that flooded the lower Susquehanna River valley. Scientists say today’s climate is changing far more rapidly, with potentially severe consequences for the region.

Chesapeake Bay water levels have risen by nearly a foot in the past century, and the rate of sea level rise appears to be accelerating. Warming temperatures are expected to affect rainfall patterns in the region and contribute to more intense storms.

Habitats for many species will be greatly altered. For instance, eelgrass, the dominant underwater grass in high salinity areas of the Chesapeake, is likely to decline because of its low tolerance to high temperatures.

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