As sea levels rise, high-tide flooding is becoming a growing problem in many parts of the globe, including cities on the U.S. East Coast. Now, new research shows that as these waters recede, they carry toxic pollutants and excess nutrients into rivers, bays, and oceans.
As high-tide flooding worsened in Norfolk, Virginia in recent years, Margaret Mulholland, a biological oceanographer at Old Dominion University, started to think about the debris she saw in the waters that flowed back into Chesapeake Bay. Tipped-over garbage cans. Tossed-away hamburgers. Oil. Dirty diapers. Pet waste.
“This water is coming up on the landscape and taking everything back into the river with it,” says Mulholland, a professor in the Department of Ocean, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences. “I was thinking how no one is counting this stuff (as runoff pollution). It drove me nuts.”
Nuts enough that she decided to sample those waters. That’s why on a recent Saturday morning she was steering her Chevy Bolt EV toward a narrow, flooded ribbon of Norfolk’s 51st Street at high tide. Marsh grasses bordered an inlet of the Lafayette River on one side of the street. A line of houses set back from the street rose on the other. Soon she came upon an overturned trash can, its contents underwater. A few feet away was a box. She opened it, and inside was a toilet. “Oh, this is good,” she said, pulling out her phone for a photo…read more
Fuente: e360 yale