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Salt Water Destroying Historic Farmland In Chesapeake Bay

Rising sea levels in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay have poisoned some of the oldest farmland in the nation’s colonial history.

Water levels in the Chesapeake Bay are rising at a rate that is twice the national average.

Salt from rising sea levels is encroaching on fertile farmland surrounding the Chesapeake Bay.

Rich soil and a warm climate has made the lower eastern shore of Maryland a valuable source of food crops since it was first surveyed by colonists 350 years ago.

But the water level in the massive estuary is rising at twice the global average rate, according to an article published in FERN’s Ag Insider and The Atlantic.

Rising levels are due in part to climate change as well as a receding aquifer and natural sinking of the land.

Several farms have recently abandoned fields where salt in the soil have rendered the land infertile.

Over the last few decades, about 4,000 acres have been lost as salt water slowly seeps in.

The exact extent and location of seawater contamination is not yet known.

With funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ecologists are expanding efforts to track the salt damage.

The most recent survey is from 1990, when the Maryland Department of Natural Resources predicted encroachment on the 10 miles between the bay and the town of Princess Anne.

But the report did not take climate change and increasingly powerful storms into consideration.

This week, a powerful storm caused flooding across the region, an incident the Washington Post linked to an overall increase in “nuisance flooding” that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has identified in the Chesapeake Bay due to climate change.

Read More:

  • The Slow-Motion Catastrophe Threatening 350-Year-Old Farms (Atlantic)
  •  Coastal Flooding From Nor’easter Hits Old Town And Annapolis (Washington Post)


Chad Bouchard

Chad Bouchard is a veteran reporter and WFIU alum who has covered wild and wooly beats from Indonesia to Capitol Hill. His radio work has aired on NPR, PRI and Voice of America, and his writing has appeared in The Sunday Telegraph and Scientific American’s health magazine, Lives. He has also spent a lifetime gardening, foraging and eating weird stuff.

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