Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Chesapeake Bay Shore Erosion

contact: Bob Conkwright (bconkwright@dnr.state.md.us)   

 Hurricane Isabel and Shore Erosion in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland page 3 of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ,6, 7, 8    
  

Shore Erosion in Chesapeake Bay

     For its size, Maryland has an inordinately long shoreline, with 6,776 miles bordering the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Based on changes in shoreline position over a recent 50-year period, the 2,182 miles of shoreline along the Bay's Western Shore retreat at an average annual rate of 0.52 ft/yr. The Western Shore thus loses about 137acres/year to shore erosion The effects of long- and short-term climatic changes and events drive shore erosion. Over the long-term, fluctuations in sea level establish the water level at which erosive forces operate. Over the short-term, winds, particularly those associated with storms, propel the waves that impinge on the shore. Tied to storms, erosion is episodic. Unlike open ocean coastlines, the Bay shoreline tends not to recover from these events. Shoreline change occurs, not just at the line of contact between land and water, but within a broader zone that extends for some distance both offshore and onshore. In addition to wearing away fastland, shore erosion operates in the nearshore to the base of wave action, that is, at water depths up to about 8 ft. In any given year, an estimated 2.0 million metric tonnes of sediment are eroded from fastland bordering the Maryland Chesapeake Bay [8]. Chart of sediment sources from fastland erosion only
Fastland Erosion
The erosion of fastland and its contribution of sediment into the Bay
The erosion of fastland and its contribution of sediment into the Bay 
8.   T. Cronin, J. Halka, S. Phillips, and O. Bricker,. 2003, in M. Langland, and T. Cronin (eds.), U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 03- 4123, pp. 49-60

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