Monday, June 18, 2018

As I Always Told My Mother . . .

Buoyed by a resurgence in aquatic grasses and water-quality upticks in several rivers, the Chesapeake Bay remained moderately healthy in 2017, according to the latest ecological report card from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

The Bay’s overall condition garnered a ‘C’ letter grade for the sixth straight year, and its health score remained unchanged from 2016, at 54 percent. Scientists see positive signs in that stability, though. They note that the Chesapeake’s health scores have gone up and down since UMCES began issuing annual report cards 11 years ago. But for three years now, the estuary’s overall health score has held relatively steady.

Scientists detailed the report card results Friday morning by the Potomac River in the District of Columbia, where they were joined by state and local officials.
But in the eye's of the Washington Post, this is a victory!  The Chesapeake Bay hasn’t been this healthy in 33 years, scientists say
For the first time in the 33 years that scientists have assessed the health of the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary showed improvement in every region, a likely sign that a massive federal cleanup plan is working.
How is that possible when the health scores remained unchanged at 54%.
The bay’s most important species — blue crabs and striped bass, which support commercial and recreational fisheries, and anchovies, the foundation of its food chain — earned top scores in a report card released Friday. Bright green underwater grasses — which help protect young fish before they venture into the Atlantic Ocean — are now thriving, even in some places where such vegetation had disappeared.
Overall, I tend to agree; the Bay appears to be slowly improving, at least it's not falling back despite population growth. But don't get too cocky! Chesapeake Bay: Larger-than-average summer 'dead zone' forecast for 2018 after wet spring
Ecologists from the University of Michigan and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science are forecasting a larger-than-average Chesapeake Bay "dead zone" in 2018, due to increased rainfall in the watershed this spring.

This summer's Chesapeake Bay hypoxic or dead zone, an area of low to no oxygen that can kill fish and other aquatic life, is expected to be about 1.9 cubic miles (7.9 cubic kilometers), according to the forecast released today by the two universities.

Spring rainfall plays an important role in determining the size of the Chesapeake Bay hypoxic zone. This year, above-average spring rainfall and streamflow is transporting nitrogen to tidal waters in amounts slightly above the long-term average, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which provides the nitrogen-loading estimates used to generate the annual hypoxia forecast.
And we've had a nice wet spring.   

No comments:

Post a Comment