Effects of Sea Level Rise on New England Salt Marshes

October 2017

There is growing evidence that the New England coast faces mounting challenges due to sea level rise. One of the ways sea level rise threatens the coast is through degradation and loss of salt marshes. Salt marshes play an important role for society in maintaining healthy fisheries, mitigating shoreline erosion, reducing flooding, and protecting water quality. Research has identified southern New England salt marshes as among the most vulnerable in the country, prompting researchers and practitioners to evaluate mechanisms of resilience and opportunities for conservation and management of these important ecosystems.

To build capacity for addressing salt marsh resilience, the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, in collaboration with the three other New England reserves, will host a regional workshop for researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers to discuss the growing body of literature on salt marshes and sea level rise. The workshop will also address the steps that can be taken to minimize loss while adapting to unavoidable change. The one-day event, held in conjunction with the New England Estuarine Research Society’s 2018 spring meeting, will provide a timely forum for information sharing, collaboration building, and the coordination of efforts. The workshop will be an important touch-point for attendees as they consider the challenges and solutions for salt marsh resilience in the face of sea level rise.

The University of Michigan Water Center and partners are working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to implement the NERRS Science Collaborative, by coordinating regular funding opportunities and supporting user-driven collaborative research, assessment and transfer activities that address critical coastal management needs identified by reserves.

See: National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) Science Collaborative