We’re getting our homework done despite Mother Nature’s agenda. So says the recently released 2018 Chesapeake Bay Report Card issued by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.
The Chesapeake Bay score remains a C, though it decreased from 54 percent to 46 percent.
“While 2018 was a difficult year for Chesapeake health due to high rainfall, we are seeing trends that the Bay is still significantly improving over time,” said Bill Dennison of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “This is encouraging because the Bay is showing resilience to climate change.”
Most indicators of Bay health — including water clarity, underwater grasses and dissolved oxygen — declined. Chlorophyll and total nitrogen scores had strong declines because the high rainfall caused nutrient runoff that then fed algal blooms. However, the overall Bay-wide trend is improving. Since 2014, all regions have been improving or remaining steady.
Of the many factors that affect Bay health, the extreme precipitation appears to have had the biggest impact last year. The Baltimore area’s 72 inches of rain is 170 percent above the normal of 42 inches. As a result, the reporting region closest to Baltimore — the Patapsco and Back rivers — showed a decline in health, decreasing to an F grade. The strongest regional declines were in the Elizabeth River and the Choptank River. The two regions that remained steady were the Lower Bay and the York River.
“The extreme precipitation in 2018 was a key issue, and current science shows that with climate change this area is going to be warmer and wetter,” said Peter Goodwin, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “Restoration efforts must remain vigilant to continue these hard-won efforts.”
We can help create a cleaner Bay by reducing fertilizer use, carpooling, using public transportation and connecting with people across the entire watershed to work together.
Read the 2018 Chesapeake Bay Report Card: www.chesapeakebay.ecoreportcard.org.