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Chesapeake Islanders Likely To Undergo "Serious Sea Rise"

Update Date: Dec 14, 2015 02:33 PM EST
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One small fishing village with just 700 residents in an island in the middle of Chesapeake Bay might be living in the continental part of the U.S. that is undergoing rising oceans. This was disclosed in a report by oceanographer David M. Schulte and two scientists with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The study also involved Tangier Island as well as nearby, smaller islands, the last of which was in Virginia waters in the Chesapeake Bay. The landmass of the islands reduced by 66.75 percent since 1850.

While studying the low, mid and high levels of sea level rise, researchers said that in the middle range, the remaining landmass would get lost in 50 years, with the town getting abandoned. In 25 years, the remaining land would get lost.

A plan was proposed, aiming to expand the lifespan of the islands as well as the town.

Right now, all 700 in the Bay are Tangier residents, most of them being fishermen. The first white man who came to the island 400 or so years ago was Captain John Smith, of Jamestown.

Carol Pruitt-Moore, a seventh generation Tangier islander, reported to Associated Press. "I think it'll be less than 50 years. We are one storm away from being washed away or being forced to evacuate."

Scientists feel that apart from climate change, the island is also getting affected by 'subsistence' or the "sinking of the bay", as this bay is a remnant from the last ice age. At that time the ice melted, and land came here, yet the bay started to sink.

Researchers note that by taking adequate measures to preserve the island, perhaps Tangier could keep its head above water for another half century.

"The Tangier Islands and the town are running out of time, and if no action is taken, the citizens of Tangier may become the first climate change refugees in the continental USA," as the report concludes.

It was a story that was published in the journal Nature.

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