The Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge encompasses more than 47,000 acres of New Jersey coastal habitats, including salt marshes, freshwater wetlands, tidal wetlands, barrier beaches, woodlands, and swamps. The refuge is along the Atlantic Flyway and provides breeding habitat for fish, migratory birds, and other wildlife species. The refuge area may be threatened by global climate change, including sea-level rise (SLR).
The Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system underlies the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Groundwater is an important source of freshwater flow into the refuge, but information about the interaction of surface water and groundwater in the refuge area and the potential effects of SLR on the underlying aquifer system is limited. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), conducted a hydrologic assessment of the refuge in New Jersey and developed a groundwater flow model to improve understanding of the geohydrology of the refuge area and to serve as a tool to evaluate changes in groundwater-level altitudes that may result from a rise in sea level.
Groundwater flow simulations completed for this study include a calibrated baseline simulation that represents 2005–15 hydraulic conditions and three SLR scenarios―20, 40, and 60 centimeters (cm) (0.656, 1.312, and 1.968 feet, respectively). Results of the three SLR simulations indicate that the water table in the unconfined Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system in the refuge area will rise, resulting in increased discharge of fresh groundwater to freshwater wetlands and streams. As sea level rises, simulated groundwater discharge to the salt marsh, bay, and ocean is projected to decrease. Flow from the salt marsh, bay, and ocean to the overlying surface water is projected to increase as sea level rises.
The simulated movement of the freshwater-seawater interface as sea level rises depends on the hydraulic-head gradient. In the center of the Forsythe model area, topographic relief is 23 feet (ft) and the hydraulic-head gradient is 0.0033. In the center of the Forsythe model area, the simulated interface moved inland about 600 ft and downward about 15 ft from the baseline simulation to scenario 3 as a result of a SLR of 60 cm. In the southern part of the Forsythe model area, the topography is flatter (relief of 8 ft) and the hydraulic-head gradient is smaller (0.001). In the southern part of the Forsythe model study area, the simulated interface in this area is projected to move inland about 200 ft from the baseline simulation to scenario 3 and does not move downward.
|Title||Hydrogeology of, simulation of groundwater flow in, and potential effects of sea-level rise on the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system in the vicinity of Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey|
|Authors||Alex R. Fiore, Lois M. Voronin, Christine M. Wieben|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Scientific Investigations Report|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||New Jersey Water Science Center|