Salinity Changes in Bay Tributaries

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I am finishing up a grad course on Wetland Ecology and Policy. This week’s topic in class is on climate change and wetlands, looking at how sea level rise, and other climate change impacts will affect the hydrology of wetlands in the U.S. While doing some work for the course, I came across a report on sea level rise and the Chesapeake Bay. The piece is a couple years old- it was published by the USGS in 2011, but a very interesting read.

The USGS study looked at estimated sea level rise, and used these predictions to create a simulation of changes in salinity in the York and Chickahominy River in the Bay watershed. The study found that salinity levels will rise with sea level, and change water quality gradients in saline and freshwater estuaries.

A link to the study here:

http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2011/1191/

Other sources on the issue:

A National Science Foundation study: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081120122157.htm

Changes in salinity will have an effect on endemic species in the Bay, such as the Virginia oyster which I briefly talked about in my last post. As salinity levels change with the climate, oysters are likely to be significantly impacted. Some further information on the impacts of climate change on the Chesapeake oyster:

Interactive effects of salinity and elevated CO2 levels on juvenile eastern oysters, Crassostrea virginica, 2012: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22162851

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