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ScienceDaily (May 24, 2008) — A new report, Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Habitats of the Chesapeake Bay, shows in vivid detail the dramatic effects of sea-level rise on the largest estuary in the US, which sustains more than 3,600 species of plants, fish and animals including great blue herons and sea turtles.
If global warming continues unabated, projected rising sea levels will significantly reshape the region's coastal landscape, threatening waterfowl hunting and recreational saltwater fishing in Virginia and Maryland, according to the report by the National Wildlife Federation.
Habitats at Risk
Coastal habitats in the Chesapeake Bay region, near Washington D.C., will be dramatically altered if sea levels rise globally about two feet by the end of the century, which is at the low end of what is predicted if global warming pollution remains unaddressed.
Under this scenario, the region would lose:
More than 167,000 acres of undeveloped dry land
58% of beaches along ocean coasts
69% of estuarine beaches along the bay
161,000 acres of brackish marsh
More than half of the region’s important tidal swamp
These important wetland habitats would be replaced in part by over 266,000 acres (415.6 square miles) of newly open water and 50,000 acres of saltmarsh.