Bay Journal

Topics: Climate Change

Warmer temperatures could have chilling effect on fall foliage

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Autumn leaf peepers in Chesapeake Bay states may be disappointed by more muted colors because of climate change, scientists say.

“Dull falls” may be added to the string of detriments climate change may bring, according to a 2018 report recently highlighted by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “Climate change is disrupting the timing of natural cycles, such as trees’ emergence from dormancy, leaf development and blooming,” the agency said in a recent statement highlighting the problem.

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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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