WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Humans Doing More Harm Than Good In Protecting Wetlands From Rising Water

Play associated audio

Rising oceans are a big threat to wetlands around the Chesapeake Bay, but scientists at the Smithsonian say wetlands can protect themselves — as long as humans stay out of the way.

A review paper from the Smithsonian concludes that rising waters simply aren't the biggest factor in wetland demise. Instead, it's human efforts to control those rising ocean waters that are more damaging to wetland survival, mostly in the form of hardened shoreline structures like dams and seawalls.

Review co-author Patrick Megonigal says hardened shorelines disrupt wetlands' amazing ability raise themselves by building up soil to outpace sea-level rise. Groundwater withdrawal and artificial drainage are also big factors, especially here in the Chesapeake region.

Megonigal says most scientists, engineers and city planners understand this.

"We're a long way from that trickling into the imagination of politicians, residents, people who have a big stake in the outcome of these kinds of decisions," he says.

Megonigal says the Chesapeake region has some of the strongest laws in the world protecting its wetlands, but also has some of highest relative sea-level rise on the planet, making this an issue that isn't likely to go away.

NPR

Bill Cunningham, Iconic 'New York Times' Photographer, Dies At 87

Cunningham worked at the Times for almost 40 years, capturing the fashion trends of the day with a timeless eye.
NPR

With A Zap, Scientists Create Low-Fat Chocolate

Scientists say they've figured out how to reduce the fat in milk chocolate by running it through an electric field. The result is healthier, but is it tastier?
NPR

Tracing The 43-Year History Of The U.K. In The European Union

The U.K. joined the European Union in 1973, hoping to gain from the booming economies on the continent. Historian Timothy Garton Ash explains the reasons why, and how the relationship soured.
NPR

President Obama Acknowledges 'Brexit' To Silicon Valley Crowd

President Obama delivered a speech Friday at Stanford University, and remarked on the Brexit vote in front of a crowd of young, tech-forward, pro-globalization attendees from 170 countries.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.