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The NOAA Effects of Sea Level Rise Program (ESLR) awarded the team $1.6M to assess marsh vulnerability, predict marsh productivity under future scenarios of sea level rise, and assess the ability of natural and nature-based features to mitigate marsh loss under sea level rise in the region.

Latham River at Jekyll Island State Park, Georgia, where the river flows into Jekyll Sound
Jekyll Island State Park, Georgia, one of many salt marsh habitats along the South Atlantic Bight.

The South Atlantic Bight (SAB) is an intertidal system spanning North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida coastlines with complex tidal circulations. It contains one of the most expansive salt marsh systems in the U.S., with habitats that serve as nurseries, breeding grounds and foraging areas for a variety of species. Coastal managers and stakeholders have identified the need for detailed assessments of marsh vulnerability, including marsh movement, loss of habitat, and the ability of natural and nature-based features to mitigate marsh loss under sea level rise in the region. This project aims to assess how salt marshes in the SAB will change under future scenarios of sea level rise. Investigators will develop a hydrodynamic and ecological model, enhanced to account for additional physical processes like sediment transport, to develop projections of marsh productivity. These models will help inform coastal managers and regional stakeholders, who will be engaged throughout the project to ensure efficient and effective translation of science to application. Learn more.

The co-investigators on this project include Dr. Karim Alizad (USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center; SPCMSC), Dr. Dawn Kotowicz (USGS SPCMSC), Dr. Nicholas Enwright (USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center), Dr. Neil Ganju (USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center), Dr. Matthew Bilskie (University of Georgia), Dr. James Morris (University of South Carolina).

Part of the NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science NCCOS), The ESLR Program provides a suite of science products and tools useful to coastal managers that are capable of evaluating coastal vulnerability under multiple sea level rise, inundation, and coastal management scenarios. ESLR projects principally, explore the vulnerability of natural ecosystems, evaluate the potential for natural structures (e.g., barrier islands, wetlands, etc.) to reduce coastal inundation, and develop best practices for the inclusion of ecosystems in coastal protection strategies.


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