Monday, September 17, 2007

Climate Change Close to Home

One thing to remember about climate change is that it will have profound effects on local ecosystems. An article in yesterday's Washington Post highlights the effect of climate change in a place I know well, Blackwater NWR. Acres of marsh are disappearing into the Chesapeake to become open water instead.

At the Blackwater refuge, it is rising waters, not rising temperatures, that are eliminating habitat. A quirk of geology means that water rises especially fast here: Paradoxically, the land in this area is sinking as North America slowly unbends from the weight of glaciers during the last ice age.

Add that to the effect of melting polar ice, and scientists expect that most of the marsh will become open water by 2030. When it goes, there could be a shortage of habitat for the Eastern Shore's marsh animals and migratory birds, said Stone, the refuge biologist.

"Birds will return for spring migration, and they'll be looking for territory, and there just won't be enough territory to go around," he said.
No doubt the problems that Blackwater experienced with invasive nutria exacerbated the subsidence problem.

When you are done reading the article, make sure to visit the wonderful pictures from the refuge in the photo gallery.