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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.
This project develops educational materials and tools to educate the general public and decision-makers about the ways engineered land-use changes affect water quality, fisheries, and human health in the region around Grand Bay, Mississippi. Research from a previous Science Collaborative research project, Legacy Effects of Land-Use Change and Nitrogen Source Shifts on a Benchmark System, will inform the educational materials produced. Researchers reviewed the history of land-use change in the region and how it shifted nutrient and pathogen sources within the Grand Bay system over time. At the end of the project, the research team and stakeholders worked together to determine what educational outreach materials produced from the research results were of the greatest value to enhance local water quality.
This project transfers risk communication materials and training sessions developed through a collaboration between the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve and NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, with the help of a risk communication expert. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the Jacques Cousteau Reserve and the Office for Coastal Management recognized that coastal decision-makers needed effective risk communication skills to help community decision-makers and residents understand and implement resiliency planning and risk hazard management. Their collaboration resulted in the development of a new Office for Coastal Management risk communication training for coastal decision-makers.
This project will promote watershed stewardship by developing video modules in American Sign Language, providing professional development for teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing, and field experiences for their students. The project team will develop an American Sign Language video module focusing on the concepts and vocabulary of watersheds and estuaries. Education coordinators from the Wells, Waquoit Bay, and Narragansett Bay reserves, along with content experts, will provide training for teachers and interpreters at a Teachers on the Estuary workshop at the Waquoit Bay Reserve.
Salt marshes and tidal creeks maintain healthy water, protect coastal communities from flooding and erosion, provide nursery and essential habitat for commercial and recreational fisheries, and support recreational activities that are a part of the coastal lifestyle. This project seeks to educate K-12 students on the importance of restoring these ecosystems, using approaches that also meet current science curriculum standards. The Guana Tolomato Matanzas, ACE Basin, North Inlet, North Carolina, and Sapelo Island reserves will create a region-wide student-driven program for teachers that will further the understanding of restoring degraded or lost estuary habitats.
Climate change impacts on Alaskan coasts are occurring at a rate that is challenging the ability of resource-dependent businesses to respond and adapt. Climate change-induced threats to Alaskan fishing communities include changing oceanographic conditions of circulation and temperature, ocean acidification, and harmful algal blooms, as well as changing stream temperatures, turbidity, and nutrient conditions. Adequate resilience tools for local fishery-related businesses in Alaska have not yet been designed and implemented, which is a barrier to effective community resilience. These issues were identified in a series of climate resilience workshops the Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve hosted for decision-makers in 2016 and 2017.
Tidal wetlands are recognized for their important role in carbon sequestration, as well as for their potential to become significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions when converted to other land uses. The substantial quantities of carbon captured and stored by tidal wetlands—termed “blue carbon”—is an ecosystem service of great interest to those developing regional, national, and global climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, including carbon markets. While carbon stocks data have been collected in several parts of the world to quantify the carbon sequestration potential of tidal wetlands, there is a scarcity of such information in the Pacific Northwest. This project helps to fill this gap by conducting the first-ever comprehensive blue carbon assessment in Pacific Northwest tidal wetlands and generating a user-friendly database of regional blue carbon data. Input from end users will guide the design, scope, outputs, and outcomes of the project.
The Coos Bay estuary has a diverse set of end users who share a common need: to better understand circulation and sediment transport under current and future conditions. The estuary is one of three Oregon estuaries designated as “deep draft development,” which means that planners must balance industry, restoration, and natural resource goals. The project team’s primary research objectives are to fill data gaps that are critical to addressing their myriad management needs. These needs include characterizing the present-day sediment distribution, monitoring sediment fluxes to the estuary, and modeling how circulation and sediment in the estuary will respond to perturbations due to both natural and human-induced causes—such as dredging or inundation caused by sea level rise.
As the sixth largest estuary on the west coast, the Coos Bay estuary is one of Oregon’s most important ecological resources, both in its abundance, diversity, and quality and in the economic and cultural value it provides. However, modern management of the estuary and surrounding shorelands is based on the economic and social drivers of the 1970s, when local land use plans were developed. The surrounding community now agrees that current land use regulations need to evolve to reflect today’s economic and social drivers, while proactively addressing environmental changes and protecting natural resources.
The Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve convened a roundtable of mosquito control agencies to examine the intersection of sea level rise, salt marsh structure, habitat modification and restoration, and nuisance mosquito populations. A chief concern is how climate change and sea level rise may affect marsh habitats, subsequently increasing mosquito production. Also of concern is how past physical alterations meant to reduce mosquito habitat affect the ability of salt marshes to maintain their relative elevation, and, as a result, their long-term resiliency in the face of sea level rise. Recognizing the valuable role that salt marshes play in buffering coastal communities, coastal decision-makers are increasingly advocating for the restoration of salt marshes. While the thin-layer application of dredge spoil is of increasing interest as a way to help marshes keep up with rising sea levels, it could also greatly affect mosquito production.