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Rain and Runoff in the Chesapeake

The Chesapeake Bay is part of the largest watershed in the Northeast U.S. It receives river and stream input from much of Central New York through Virginia, including the Susquehanna and Potomac Rivers. Over the past two weeks, this same region has received in excess of 32” of rain in some areas. The Susquehanna River experienced record flood levels. All of this rain and runoff eventually has made its way into the Chesapeake Bay. The result can be seen here in this total suspended matter data acquired by the NASA Aqua satellite and processed by NOAA CoastWatch. Before (August 23rd) and after (September 11th) images show stark differences in the amount of suspended matter (silt, mud, debris) found in the waters of the Chesapeake and its tributaries. Water conditions caused the modification of the Nation’s Triathlon held in DC on September 11th due to poor water quality, currents, and debris.

Suspended matter poses a hazard to the Chesapeake Bay by reducing the Bay's water quality. Oysters that normally filter the water can be smothered by the sediment. In addition, sediment reduces the light needed by sea-grass beds, which ordinarily provide nursery grounds for many species of fish and crabs. The restoration of oysters and sea grasses has been a priority in efforts to revive the health of the Bay, but catastrophic events such as those brought by Tropical Storm Lee hamper these efforts. Management practices that will bring about long-term reduction in sediment and nutrient pollution from upstream agricultural and urban/suburban sources, will have a positive impact on the Bay by making the Bay more resilient when catastrophic events occur.

Rain and Runoff in the Chesapeake
Referral:NOAA CoastWatch East Coast Node
Keywords:runoff, MODIS, Chesapeake Bay, 2011.09.12 logo
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