The Chesapeake Bay is a dynamic system. Across the watershed, rainfall, temperature and other conditions change from month to month and year to year, impacting the surrounding environment. Human activities also impact the air, land and water, as we consume natural resources, produce pollution and clear land to fit our needs.
The Chesapeake Bay Program uses monitoring data to track the factors that influence the health of the Bay and its watershed. Tracking changes in these factors over time gives scientists a better understanding of natural and human-influenced variations and the long-term effects of our restoration work.
The Bay’s decline is directly linked to population growth and development. As we consume resources and clear forests and wetlands, we offset efforts to restore rivers, streams and the Bay.
Nutrient and sediment pollution are among the leading causes of the Bay’s poor health. Nitrogen and phosphorus can fuel the growth of harmful algae blooms, while sediment can cloud the water and suffocate shellfish.
Natural factors like precipitation and river flow have an enormous effect on the Bay. Annual rain and snowfall determine the amount of water that flows in rivers and streams. Both river flow and the concentration of pollutants in that water affect the amount of pollution entering the Bay.