U.S. Geological Survey Home Page USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Science Meetings; dedicated to Chandler S. Robbins USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center; Science Meetings dedicated to Chandler S. Robbins Dedicated to Chan Robbins USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center; Science Meetings dedicated to Chandler S. Robbins Poster Abstracts from USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Science Meetings, October, 2006
Patuxent Science Meeting 2006 Poster Abstract

Predicting the response of coastal wetlands to sea-level rise

Guntenspergen GR, Cahoon DR

Global average eustatic sea level is projected to rise under all emission scenarios used by the

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These sea level rise models have been

used in combination with coastal elevation data to estimate that a 1 meter rise in sea level

could reduce coastal wetlands in the United States by 26 to 66 percent. These low-lying lands

provide important habitat for plant and animal species and over US $12 trillion in ecosystem

services world-wide. Lidar imagery or detailed elevation surveys have historically been combined

with projected rates of sea level rise to assess the vulnerability of coastal wetlands. This

approach has not included the potential for coastal wetlands to respond to increases in sea-

level rise. We used new technology to understand the linkages and feedback effects that control

habitat stability of coastal wetlands, and the specific biological and physical processes that

determine how wetland surface elevations respond to changes in relative sea level. We illustrate

this approach with work from a site in the Mid-Atlantic (Blackwater NWR) and provide a

research strategy which is being used to develop a predictive capacity to forecast future

responses of coastal wetlands to changes in external forcing functions (i.e. sea level rise,

nutrients, CO2).

Friday, September 22, 2006



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