Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sea Level Rise Alters Chesapeake Bay's Salinity

Date:
November 25, 2008
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
While global-warming-induced coastal flooding moves populations inland, the changes in sea level will affect the salinity of estuaries, which influences aquatic life, fishing and recreation.

This is a map of the Chesapeake Bay estuary.
Credit: NOAA

While global-warming-induced coastal flooding moves populations inland, the changes in sea level will affect the salinity of estuaries, which influences aquatic life, fishing and recreation.

Related Articles


Researchers from Penn State and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science are studying the Chesapeake Bay to see how changes in sea level may have affected the salinity of various parts of the estuary.

"Many have hypothesized that sea-level rise will lead to an increase in estuarine salinity, but the hypothesis has never been evaluated using observations or 3-D models of estuarine flow and salinity," says Timothy W. Hilton, graduate student in meteorology at Penn State.

"The Chesapeake is very large, the largest estuary in the U.S. and it is very productive," says Raymond Najjar, associate professor of meteorology. "It has been the site of many large fisheries and supported many fishermen. A lot of money has gone into cleaning up the bay and reducing nutrient and sediment inputs. Climate change might make this work easier, or it could make it harder."

The Chesapeake is naturally saltier near its mouth and fresher near the inflow of rivers. The researchers, who also included Ming Li and Liejun. Zhong of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, studied the Chesapeake Bay, using two complementary approaches, one based on a statistical analysis of historical data and one based on a computer model of the bay's flow and salinity.

They looked at historical data for the Susquehanna River as it flows into the Chesapeake Bay from 1949 to 2006. The flow of this fresh water into the bay naturally changes salinity. After accounting for the change in salinity due to rivers, the researchers found an increasing trend in salinity. The researchers reported their results in a recent edition of Journal of Geophysical Research.

The team then ran a hydrodynamic model of the Bay using present-day and reduced sea level conditions. The salinity change they found was consistent with the trend determined from the statistical analysis, supporting the hypothesis that sea-level rise has significantly increased salinity in the Bay. However, the Penn State researchers note that historical salinity data is limited and sedimentation reshapes the bed of the Bay. There are also cyclical effects partially due to Potomac River flow, Atlantic Shelf salinity and winds.

"Salt content affects jelly fish, oysters, sea grasses and many other forms of aquatic life," says Hilton. "The Chesapeake Bay is a beautiful place, used for recreation and for people's livelihoods. It is a real jewel on the East Coast and changes in salinity can alter its uses. Our research improves our understanding of the influence of climate change on the Bay and can therefore be used to improve costly restoration strategies."

The National Science Foundation supported this work.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Sea Level Rise Alters Chesapeake Bay's Salinity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081120122157.htm>.
Penn State. (2008, November 25). Sea Level Rise Alters Chesapeake Bay's Salinity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081120122157.htm
Penn State. "Sea Level Rise Alters Chesapeake Bay's Salinity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081120122157.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, thanks in part to something called feedback. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins