WASHINGTON — Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both D-Md., announced the recent award of nearly $250,000 for new research focused on the resiliency of the Chesapeake Bay through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ecological Effects of Sea Level Rise research program.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources, George Mason University and the Nature Conservancy will collaborate to increase understanding of the benefits of natural features, like marshes and aquatic vegetation, in reducing the effects of sea level rise, flooding and storms. This is the first EESLR research focused on the Chesapeake Bay, which has one of the highest rates of sea level rise in the nation.

“Climate change is already affecting the Chesapeake Bay,” said Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “This grant builds on the history of successful collaborations between federal, state and local governments and nonprofit actors to protect our state’s most important natural resource.

“Understanding how we can harness natural aspects of the environment will help us to mitigate sea level rise and reduce the damaging effects of flooding and storms on our coastal communities,”

“More and more,” Van Hollen said, “the effects of climate change are impacting our everyday lives. Just last week, we saw significant flooding in Annapolis and all along the shores of the Bay.

“This grant will fund important research on how we can combat these negative impacts, and will ultimately help our efforts to protect the Bay and our Bay economy. I will continue working in Congress to address climate change, including through legislation such as my cap and dividend plan.”

Van Hollen is a member of the Budget and Appropriations Committee.

Coastal communities and ecosystems are increasingly threatened by rising seas and coastal flooding that alters shorelines. This can make homes, businesses and habitats more vulnerable to impacts from coastal storms. Rising sea levels also can change how ecosystems function, especially when combined with flooding from tides and storms.

Coping with sea level rise and flooding has become a priority for local communities. EESLR projects explore the vulnerability of natural ecosystems, evaluate the potential for natural structures to reduce coastal inundation and develop best practices for the inclusion of ecosystems in coastal protection strategies.

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