Scientists are Digging up the Dirt for Clues to Disappearing Nitrogen in the Chesapeake Bay

Thomas Fisher of UMCES enters data from a stream logger into his computer at his makeshift office near South Forge Branch, one of the Choptank’s tributaries. The logger measures water depth and temperature. (Dave Harp)

by Rona Kobell 
Rona Kobell is a staff writer for the Bay Journal. Her work has won numerous awards and in 2008, she was selected as a Knight-Wallace fellow at the University of Michigan, where she spent a year studying the use of economic incentives in environmental policy. Call it the case of the missing nitrogen.

According to the Chesapeake Bay Journal, scientists have wondered what happens to the nitrogen that farmers apply to fields over the past several decades.

Microplastic pollution in the Chesapeake Bay poses risks, report finds

Plastic debris like this breaks down in the environment into smaller and smaller bits. (Dave Harp)

By Leslie Middleton
Leslie Middleton writes about water quality, public access, and the special places of the Chesapeake Bay region from her home in Charlottesville, Virginia. According to the Chesapeake Bay Journal, tiny bits of “microplastics” that wash into the Bay may endanger aquatic life in the estuary and its tributaries, but more research is needed to better understand the threat, according to a report from scientists and policy makers released Monday. Although federal legislation was approved in December that addresses a portion of the issue, the report from the Chesapeake Bay Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee said the law did not eliminate the need to find new ways to reduce microplastic pollution and recommended additional legislation to address the issue, which is of growing concern for waterways around the globe. Microplastics – pieces of synthetic polymers smaller than 5 millimeters – are found in water bodies everywhere, with more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating at or near the ocean surface, according to a recent estimate.