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Sea Level Rise

A Changing Watershed

Like other watersheds around the world, the Christina River Watershed is subject to changing environmental conditions for a variety of reasons.   Land use changes, changes in weather patterns and trends over time, and even changes in the Delaware River and Bay and the ocean can all impact the water quality and natural habitat in and around the Christina River.

Delaware (and much of the Mid-Atlantic region) is particularly susceptible to changes in sea level rise.   Sea level rise is an increase in the level of water in the ocean, where it meets the land.  Sea levels have been rising very slowly for a very long time.  The land here in Delaware (and elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic) has also been sinking very slowly for a long time, a process called subsidence.   The pace at which sea level is rising has increased in recent years and decades, and scientists expect that pace to increase even more in future years and decades.   The combination of increased sea level rise, subsidence, and warmer, wetter, stormier weather could have some very significant impacts in Delaware, and on rivers like the Christina.

It may be difficult for some plants, animals, and ecosystems in the watershed to adapt to these impacts.  It may also be difficult for some people and communities to adapt, particularly to flooding.  Fortunately, there are a growing number of resources being developed to assist with adaptation.

Here are a few relevant online resources on Climate Change:

State of Delaware Climate Change Resources

Partnership for the Delaware Estuary Climate Change Programs

US Environmental Protection Agency Climate Change Resources