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Lingering Impacts from Extreme Weather Events Affect Chesapeake Bay Underwater Grasses in 2020

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports a third consecutive year of underwater grass loss in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay in 2020. During the annual survey, 34,882 acres of underwater grasses were mapped in Maryland, representing 44% of the state’s 2025 restoration target and 30% of the ultimate restoration goal of 114,065 acres. Record high rainfall and stream flows into the Chesapeake Bay in 2018 and 2019 led to higher levels of nutrient and sediment pollution, changes in salinity, and poorer water clarity in many of Maryland’s waterways. Habitat conditions remained poor in 2020, and underwater grass abundance declined 13% overall from the previous year. After years of significant gains, more than 3,000 acres of underwater grasses were lost in the mid-Bay region, specifically the lower Chester River, Eastern Bay, the mouth of Choptank River, and the Little Choptank River. These declines were primarily in widgeon grass, a species that can rapidly increase or decrease from year to year with changes in water quality. Some areas of Maryland’s portion of the Bay showed improvements in underwater grass abundance. The iconic beds in Tangier Sound and the Susquehanna Flats, along with those on the Potomac River, including Mattawoman […]

The post Lingering Impacts from Extreme Weather Events Affect Chesapeake Bay Underwater Grasses in 2020 appeared first on Southern Maryland News Net.

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