Coastal wetlands are among the most productive and valuable ecosystems in the world—comparable to even rainforests and coral reefs. They are often referred to as natural sponges or nature’s kidneys because they slow the flow of water across the watershed, filter out pollutants and excess nutrients, and even absorb and store large quantities of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. These capabilities help protect coastal communities from storms and flooding, prevent erosion, improve water quality, and decrease the effects of climate change. Coastal wetlands also provide essential food, refuge, and nursery habitat for important species, as well as opportunities for recreation, like boating, hiking, and bird watching. Everyone benefits from the numerous critical services these ecosystems provide.
At the U.S. Geological Survey, we conduct a wide variety of research in coastal wetlands to ensure Federal, State, regional, and local organizations have the information they need to make wetland restoration and management decisions that will best serve the Nation.
USGS scientists collect information on how physical processes and events, like sea-level rise and storms, and human activities influence coastal wetlands. We then use this information to develop models that help us to better predict future ecosystem conditions. Through this work, we can assess wetland vulnerability, water quality, and resilience, and identify human activities that are causing wetland degradation and loss.
Stakeholders from the Federal and State government all the way to community planners can use USGS coastal wetland research, data, and tools to make informed management decisions that balance the use of these rich ecosystems with sustaining their health and productivity, to safeguard the many wonderful services wetlands provide for us all.
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