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Northeastern River Tidal Marshes May be Resilient to Accelerated Sea Level Rise

The Northeast CASC recently highlighted a new publication that documents the rapid development of human made tidal marshes that may be resilient to future sea level rise.

Tidal Marshland in the Plum Island Estuary, Massachusetts
The marshes of Plum Island Estuary are among those predicted by scientists to submerge during the next century under conservative projections of sea-level rise. (Credit: Matthew Kirwan, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.)

Read the original news story posted by the Northeast CASC, here.

Tidal marshes are valuable ecosystems that provide habitat to fish and wildlife, and buffer coasts against erosion and flooding. However, there location along the shoreline leaves coastal managers concerned about the vulnerability of tidal marshes to rising sea levels. By studying the Hudson River Estuary Marshes as an example of the rapid development of tidal freshwater wetlands, Northeast CASC-supported researchers Brian Yellen and Jonathan Woodruff found that early industrial development provided favorable conditions for emergent marshes. The example of the Hudson River Estuary suggests that these human-made tidal marshes may be resilient to accelerated sea level rise in the future and that these marshes can develop relatively rapidly in sheltered settings.

Yellen and colleagues write that these tidal wetlands “currently trap roughly 6% of the Hudson River’s sediment load. Results indicate that when sediment is readily available, freshwater tidal wetlands can develop relatively rapidly in sheltered settings. The study sites serve as useful examples to help guide future tidal marsh creation and restoration efforts.”

The Northeast CASC funded project, Understanding Sediment Availability to Reduce Tidal Marsh Vulnerability to Sea Level Rise in the Northeast, intends to help coastal managers identify vulnerable marshes threatened by climate change and predict marsh resiliency.

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