Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Raymond G. Najjar; Christopher R. Pyke; Mary Beth Adams; Denise Breitburg; Carl Hershner; Michael Kemp; Robert Howarth; Margaret R. Mulholland; Michael Paolisso; David Secor; Kevin Sellner; Denice Wardrop; Robert Wood
    Date: 2010
    Source: Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science. 86:1-20.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Northern Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (1020.4 KB)


    We review current understanding of the potential impact of climate change on the Chesapeake Bay. Scenarios for CO2 emissions indicate that by the end of the 21st century the Bay region will experience significant changes in climate forcings with respect to historical conditions, including increases in CO2 concentrations, sea level, and water temperature of 50-160%, 0.7-1.6 m, and 2-6 ºC, respectively. Also likely are increases in precipitation amount (very likely in the winter and spring), precipitation intensity, intensity of tropical and extratropical cyclones (though their frequency may decrease), and sea-level variability. The greatest uncertainty is associated with changes in annual streamflow, though it is likely that winter and spring flows will increase. Climate change alone will cause the Bay to function very differently in the future. Likely changes include: (1) an increase in coastal flooding and submergence of estuarine wetlands; (2) an increase in salinity variability on many time scales; (3) an increase in harmful algae; (4) an increase in hypoxia; (5) a reduction of eelgrass, the dominant submerged aquatic vegetation in the Bay; and (6) altered interactions among trophic levels, with subtropical fish and shellfish species ultimately being favored in the Bay. The magnitude of these changes is sensitive to the CO2 emission trajectory, so that actions taken now to reduce CO2 emissions will reduce climate impacts on the Bay. Research needs include improved precipitation and streamflow projections for the Bay watershed and whole-system monitoring, modeling, and process studies that can capture the likely non-linear responses of the Chesapeake Bay system to climate variability, climate change, and their interaction with other anthropogenic stressors.

    Publication Notes

    • Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
    • Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
    • During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
    • Please contact Sharon Hobrla, if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Najjar, Raymond G.; Pyke, Christopher R.; Adams, Mary Beth; Breitburg, Denise; Hershner, Carl; Kemp, Michael; Howarth, Robert; Mulholland, Margaret R.; Paolisso, Michael; Secor, David; Sellner, Kevin; Wardrop, Denice; Wood, Robert. 2010. Potential climate-change impacts on the Chesapeake Bay. Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science. 86:1-20.


    Google Scholar


    climate, estuaries, circulation, biogeochemistry, vascular plants, fisheries

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page