New Study on Climate Change Impact on Bay Finfish

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We hear a lot about how climate change will impact the Chesapeake Bay region, with sea level rise and increased rates of flooding affecting shoreline communities; and ocean acidification potentially harming oyster and blue crab populations. What about finfish species? The U.S. Geological Survery, USGS, has just released a report examining how climate change will affect coldwater fish species (such as the brook trout), native to the Bay watershed. The report relays estimates (through models) on how temperatures of specific streams and watersheds in the Chesapeake Bay region will be impacted with climate change. This new data should allow conservationists to ramp up efforts to protect coldwater fish ecosystems in threatened areas.

Brook trout, and other coldwater finfish species, which can be found in our watershed’s freshwater streams, are expected to suffer from climate change, and warming water temperatures. While previous studies have looked at the relationship between air and surface water temperature to predict future water temperatures of streams, the USGS set out to create more accurate models for climate change impacts on coldwater fish, by taking groundwater into account. Groundwater, especially in headwater streams, can have a major impact on overall stream temperatures. The USGS created models for specific streams throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed, using groundwater and surface water temperatures, to predict changing water temperatures in the wake of climate change, and with this, the future health of the fish that rely on these streams.

The full report can be found here.

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