DV-16-01 Sea-level rise adaptation in New England marshes

Lucille Zipf
Boston University


Climate change is projected to result in a continued and amplified rise in sea level, putting at risk salt marsh ecosystems that developed during times of relatively stable seas. Coastal communities are interested in exploring ways to preserve their salt marshes and the many benefits they provide, such as protection during storms. Zipf, a graduate student, is studying assisted migration of native marsh plants in New England as a strategy for preserving marsh integrity and diversity in the face of sea-level rise.

Zipf is transplanting marsh grasses between the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Massachusetts and Acadia National Park in Maine to study their response to the different climates. These marshes are ideal for transplant studies of marsh response to a changing climate because the climate of Acadia is predicted to be similar to that of southeastern Massachusetts within the coming century. This work provides a necessary first step to determine if assisted upland migration is feasible, bridging the gap between large scale sea-level mapping studies and local management and adaptation strategies.

Sea Grant funds: $2,000