States in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have agreed to write plans later this year that will acknowledge the extent to which climate change will require significantly more work in the future to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.All of this, of course, is based on climate models, which have consistently overstated warming by a factor of at least two. Moreover, this is no support for projecting increased rainfall or greater storm intensity.
Climate change has been linked to heavier rain events. The more it rains, the more runoff will carry nutrient pollution into waterways. (Dave Harp)Climate change has been linked to heavier rain events. The more it rains, the more runoff will carry nutrient pollution into waterways. (Dave Harp)
In December, state and federal officials in the Chesapeake Bay Program had agreed that the scheduled updates to state-specific cleanup plans would outline ways to address the impact of climate change. But they stopped short of requiring that the plans acknowledge the magnitude of the impact: The Bay Program’s computer models show that states will need to reduce an additional 9 million pounds of nitrogen and 500,000 pounds of phosphorus to offset the impacts of climate change on Bay water quality.
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The Midpoint Assessment took place in 2017. But when modeling estimates for climate change were released in December, officials were caught off guard by the enormity of the impact. A projected 9 million additional pounds of nutrients are expected to reach the Bay – that’s a significant increase, which must be added to the approximately 40 million pounds of nitrogen reductions still needed to meet the TMDL goals. In addition, states need to reduce another 6 million pounds of nutrients to make up for what is now spilling past the Conowingo Dam.
The climate-related impacts stem largely from increased rainfall and greater storm intensity, which drive more nutrients off the land and into streams. The cleanup goals in the 2010 TMDL were based on modeling that assumed steady climate conditions from the early 1990s through 2025. Instead, average precipitation during that period is on track to increase by slightly more than 3 percent, meaning the previous modeling underestimated the amount of nutrients that will wash off the land.
But if they take it out of Baltimore's share of the nutrient budget, it's OK with me.
This isn't why I voted for Trump.