Climate Change Impacts on Water in or near Virginia in Two Fall 2014 Reports: Rising Temperatures and Aquatic Dead Zones in Nov. 2014 Smithsonian Study; Rising Seas and Washington, D.C. Flooding in September 2014 Climate Central Report

Here are two recent reports related to climate change effects on water in or near Virginia.

1) In November 2014, a Smithsonian Institute research study was published indicating that “dead zones” in many parts of the world, including the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, are expected to be warmer by 2099, potentially increasing the size of the zones.  Dead zones are areas in aquatic systems where the levels of dissolved oxygen are too low to support most life.  A primary cause of such zones is excessive algae growth caused by excessive nutrients.  Higher water temperatures can enhance algae growth and the bacterial composition of dead algae (which uses oxygen); moreover; higher temperatures reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen that a given volume of water can hold.  Sources: Climate change expected to expand majority of ocean dead zones, Smithsonian Science, 11/10/14; and Larger ‘dead zones,’ oxygen-depleted water, likely because of climate change, Washington Post, 11/10/14.

2) In September 2014, the non-profit organization Climate Central (headquartered in Princeton, N.J.; see http://www.climatecentral.org/what-we-do/history) released “Washington, D.C. and The Surging Sea: A Vulnerability Assessment with Projections for Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flood Risk.”  The report examines in detail the areas and structures of the city that would be subject to more frequent flooding under predicted ranges of sea-level rise by 2100.  The report is available online at http://sealevel.climatecentral.org/ssrf/dc; that site also has an interactive tool to show predicted flood exposure for specific zip codes.  Additional sourceFlooding from storm surge would threaten D.C. infrastructure, report says, Washington Post, 9/16/14.

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