Chesapeake Bay ecosystem health remains poor, but slightly improved in 2007

Apr 03, 2008

An independent scientific analysis led by University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science researchers gives the Chesapeake Bay a C-minus in 2007, indicating that Bay ecological conditions were slightly better than the previous year, but far below what is needed for a healthy Bay.

“The Chesapeake Bay Health Report Card shows conditions slightly improved last year, but there is nothing here from which we can take great comfort,” said University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science researcher and project leader Bill Dennison. “Data gathered from more than 150 monitoring sites throughout the Bay show us that the health of the Bay remains poor. We are not on the road to recovery.”

Scientists note that the increase from a D-plus in 2006 to a C-minus in 2007 was highlighted by improved conditions in Maryland’s Upper Western Shore (including the Gunpowder and Bush Rivers) and the Choptank River on the Eastern Shore. However, they also warn that those improvements may in part be due to the summer drought.

“The summer drought most certainly played a role in last year’s health,” said Dennison. “We had record low rainfall in many regions, which led to less nutrient and sediment pollution flowing into the Bay during the critical June to September timeframe.”

The report card also allows scientists to compare conditions in various parts of the Bay over a number of years. This analysis provides insight into several important trends:

-- Overall, the annual amount of pollution reaching the Bay in 2007 was similar to average conditions observed over the last 17 years.

-- While scientists are optimistic about the resurgence of aquatic grasses in the Upper Bay, they remain concerned over recent losses in key nursery areas in the Lower Chesapeake.

-- Despite slightly clearer Bay waters in 2007, scientists remain concerned about the downward trajectory Bay water clarity has taken in many areas over past years. Cloudier waters hamper aquatic grasses and other life from thriving.

“These long term trends are disturbing. At best, we are only holding our own against population growth and development taking place throughout the Bay watershed,” added Dennison.

“The scientifically-rigorous report card reinforces the notion that conditions across the bay vary from creek to creek and river to river,” said University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science President Donald F. Boesch. “These local variations are a clarion call to Bay managers that targeting pollution reduction programs is critical to accelerating improvements in Bay health.”

Source: University of Maryland

Explore further: US proposes stricter ozone limits

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Native vegetation makes a comeback on Santa Cruz Island

Sep 17, 2014

On islands, imported plants and animals can spell ecological disaster. The Aleutians, the Galápagos, the Falklands, Hawaii, and countless other archipelagoes have seen species such as rats, goats, brown ...

NASA image: Venice Lagoon from orbit

Jun 03, 2014

A narrow barrier island protects the Lagoon of Venice from storm waves in the northern Adriatic Sea, and breakwaters protect inlets to the lagoon. Red tiles on the roofs of Venice contrast with the grays ...

Sustainable ways to keep us flying

Apr 09, 2014

The global aviation industry continues to expand, with over 3 billion people expected to fly commercially in 2014, along with 38 million metric tons of cargo. This activity will have a huge impact on the ...

Guarding the country against foreign animal diseases

Oct 25, 2013

A deadly animal virus is on the loose, treading through Russia and knocking on the doors of Eastern Europe and Asia. After its introduction into the Republic of Georgia and the Caucasus region in 2007 and ...

Recommended for you

India court slams Delhi's worsening air pollution

7 hours ago

India's environment court has slammed the government over the capital's horrendous air pollution, which it said was "getting worse" every day, and ordered a string of measures to bring it down.

US proposes stricter ozone limits

18 hours ago

The US Environmental Protection Agency announced plans Wednesday to strengthen emission regulations for ozone, a smog-causing pollutant blamed for respiratory ailments affecting millions of Americans.

Deforestation drops 18 percent in Brazil's Amazon

21 hours ago

Deforestation in the Amazon rain forest dropped 18 percent over the past 12 months, falling to the second-lowest level in a quarter century, Brazil's environment minister said Wednesday.

The unbelievable underworld and its impact on us all

23 hours ago

A new study has pulled together research into the most diverse place on earth to demonstrate how the organisms below-ground could hold the key to understanding how the worlds ecosystems function and how they ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

out7x
not rated yet Apr 04, 2008
What about the oil sludge at the bottom of the rivers?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.