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Sea Level Rise Poses a Threat to Tidal Marshes

Rapidly rising seas threaten to drown tidal marshes and diminish the benefits provided to people and wildlife by these valuable coastal ecosystems. Increasingly, government agencies and non-government organizations are harnessing the power of computer-based models of marsh ecosystems to inform management and policy strategies to sustain tidal marshes, including by allowing marshes to shift gradually inland with sea level rise onto formerly dry land—a process known as marsh migration. In response to a need identified by its members and partners,  the Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC) sponsored an initiative in 2014-15 to advance the effective use of models of marsh migration in the context of management and policy.

Models Provide Information to Support Management and Policy Decision-Making

The report Make Way for Marshes: Guidance on Using Models of Tidal Marsh Migration to Support Community Resilience to Sea Level Rise covers the entire modeling lifecycle from developing a modeling approach and working with data to communicating modeling results. The guidance was developed through expert interviews, a regional workshop of practitioners and scientists, and a scientific and technical literature review. While some of the information pertains specifically to NROC’s region of interest in the northeastern United States, the report is also intended as a useful resource for modeling of marsh migration in other regions.

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Make Way for Marshes Figure

Acknowledgements

NROC thanks the many individuals who contributed their time and expertise to the planning and production of this report, including the project steering committee, members of the NROC Ocean and Coastal Ecosystem Health Committee, interviewees during the information gathering phase, workshop participants, reviewers, and those who provided ideas, information, and data. These individuals represented the following organizations:

  • Casco Bay Estuary Partnership
  • Catalysis Adaptation Partners
  • Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
  • Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
  • Long Island Sound Study
  • Maine Coastal Program
  • Maine Geological Survey
  • Maine Natural Areas Program
  • Mass Audubon
  • Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program
  • Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration
  • Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management
  • Merrimack Valley Planning Commission
  • National Park Service
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission
  • New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
  • New Hampshire Fish and Game Department
  • Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies
  • Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council
  • Rockingham Planning Commission
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Town of Newbury
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of New Hampshire
  • Warren Pinnacle Consulting, Inc.
  • Waterview Consulting
  • Yale University

Research, Writing, Graphics, and Design: Waterview Consulting (Peter Taylor, Molly Brown, Virginia Howe, Keil Schmid, Sally Ann Sims)

Funding for this report was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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