Effects of sea-level rise on Pacific Coast tidal marshes along a latitudinal gradient
Dr. Karen Thorne, USGS, WERC, San Francisco Bay Estuary Field Station
Date: Thursday November 3rd 2:00 - 3:00pm (PDT)
Tidal marshes, mudflats, and shallow bays within coastal estuaries link marine, freshwater and terrestrial habitats, and provide economic and recreational benefits to local communities. Climate change effects such as sea-level rise (SLR) are altering these habitats, but we know little about how these areas will change over the next 50–100 years. The goal of our research was to provide science in support of coastal management and climate change adaptation efforts along the Pacific Coast. To accomplish this a multidisciplinary team of researchers developed sea-level rise ecological response models for sixteen tidal marshes along the Pacific Coast from Pudget Sound, Washington to southern California. During this progress researchers compiled high resolution physical and biological data, including coastal topography, tidal inundation, plant composition, and sediment accretion to project how SLR may alter these ecosystems in the future. They found that sea-level rise vulnerability varied across sites with the areas most susceptible to rapid rates of sea-level rise early in this century were located in southern and central California. However, all sites were vulnerable to submergence under the highest rates of projected sea-level rise.