US: The Conservation Fund unveiled a new state-of-the-art map and website for the Chesapeake Bay region. The map shows what will be the impact of sea level rise induced by climate change in this region. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. It lies off the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Maryland and Virginia.
Sea level is predicted to rise steadily along the East Coast due to a changing climate, which, along with periodic storm surge, could result in shoreline erosion, coastal flooding, salt water intrusion of freshwater resources and inundation of some coastal areas. With more than 11,600 miles of coastline along its main body of water and tidal tributaries, the Chesapeake Bay is at risk.
Natural resource managers and decision makers are grappling with the scope of this problem and are developing strategies to adapt to future predicted changes. Rising waters and potential storms could profoundly impact the way in which we determine appropriate areas for conservation and development.
“The purpose of these resources is to raise awareness of one of the most significant threats that climate change poses to natural and human infrastructure in the Bay region and to help communities respond and adapt to its impacts,” said Erik Meyers, vice president of Sustainable Programs for The Conservation Fund. “Until now, there hasn’t been a reliable and easily accessible educational resource available for students, professionals, businesses and governments to explore the phenomena.”
The new National Geographic map and website describe the threats that sea level rise and storm surge pose to the environment, wildlife and roads, buildings and houses, and provides a Bay-wide visualisation identifying low-lying threatened areas. They also provide snap shots of high-resolution inundation models for Washington, D.C., Dorchester County, Maryland, and Virginia Beach, Virginia.
As a way to educate the next generation of scientists, environmentalists and community leaders, 25,000 copies of the map are being distributed to schools in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. National Geographic’s Education Division is currently developing lesson plans to accompany the map and website.