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USGS researchers Davina Passeri, Erika Lentz, and Nicholas Enwright, co-organized and led a two-part session at the 2022 Ocean Sciences Meeting titled “Dynamic Coastal Change: Knowledge, Gaps, and Decision-Support.”

A vegetated sandy coastline with water at low tide, and a strip of land in the distance with houses
A view of a vegetated inland coastline overlooking the water on Dauphin Island, Alabama. 

Coastal environments, such as estuarine wetland and barrier island landscapes, are dynamic systems that provide ecological, economic, recreational, and cultural value and services. These landscapes are expected to change drastically over the coming century due to accelerated sea-level rise, climate change, and changes in frequency and intensity of storm events. Understanding the complex interactions between physical and ecological processes, their timescales, human influences, and informational and spatial gaps, are critical for generating short- and long-term predictions to inform management of dynamic coastal settings. In response, USGS researchers Davina Passeri (St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center [SPCMSC]), Erika Lentz (Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center [WHCMSC]), Nicholas Enwright (Wetland and Aquatic Research Center [WARC]), and Julie Zinnert (Virginia Commonwealth University) organized and led a two-part session at the 2022 Ocean Sciences Meeting titled “Dynamic Coastal Change: Knowledge, Gaps, and Decision-Support.”

The session included contributions focused on: 1) integrated modeling approaches to understand changes in physical and ecological processes; 2) assessments of dynamic landscape change, including barrier islands, wetlands, coastal ecosystems and habitats; and 3) approaches that consider uncertainty, such as human actions or future climate change, alongside process-knowledge to highlight knowledge gaps. Specifically, this session included USGS multidisciplinary research focused on coastal change including: 1) probabilistic sea level rise modeling (Erika Lentz); 2) overview and methodology for the new USGS Coastal Change Likelihood effort (Elizabeth Pendleton and Travis Sterne; WHCMSC); 3) predicted biogeomorphological changes and Piping Plover habitat under sea-level rise scenarios (Sara Zeigler; SPCMSC); 4) decadal barrier island evolution and resilience and habitat modeling with storms and sea-level rise (Davina Passeri; SPCMSC and Nicholas Enwright; WARC); 5) integrated modeling for barrier islands and mainland coasts (Donya Frank-Gilchrist; SPCMSC); 6) marsh evolution under sea-level rise (Karim Alizad; SPCMSC); and 7) forest recovery from disturbance — a transgression experiment (David Walters; Eastern Ecological Science Center). 

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