Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Buzzards Bay salt marshes: Vulnerability and adaptation potential

February 1, 2023

Salt marshes with lush grass meadows teeming with shorebirds are iconic features of the Buzzards Bay coast and provide opportunities for recreation, aesthetic enjoyment, as well as important environmental benefits. These productive coastal wetlands are important because they protect properties from storm surges, remove nutrients from the water and carbon from the atmosphere, and provide critical habitats for fish, shellfish, and birds.

Found where the land meets the sea, salt marshes are naturally dynamic features that change with rising seas, waves, ice, and storms. In the past, humans purposely altered salt marshes by filling them to create buildable land or digging drainage ditches. These major alterations harmed marsh structure and health. In recent decades, however, marshes are degrading because of more diffuse and complex pressures such as nutrient pollution, sea level rise, major storms, and crab overgrazing. As a result, at many places along the East Coast, marshes have crumbling banks and large areas where the plants have died, leaving behind mudflats. The Buzzards Bay Coalition and the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program began field monitoring of salt marshes around Buzzards Bay in 2019 to document changes (map below shows sites). We partnered with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Woodwell Climate Research Center to use aerial tools to investigate how different characteristics of the long-term marsh sites and their watersheds affect the marsh’s current health and likely future. This report brings together the results of on the ground monitoring with data from aerial imagery to look at marsh status at 12 long-term monitoring sites based on existing stressors, current marsh conditions, and potential for adaptation.

Publication Year 2023
Title Buzzards Bay salt marshes: Vulnerability and adaptation potential
Authors R. W Jakuba, A. Besterman, L. Hoffart, J. E. Costa, Neil K. Ganju, L. Deegan
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Organization Series
Index ID 70243205
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center