Standardized Environmental Assessments

NOAA scientists developed a standardized approach, the first of its kind, for assessing how changing environmental conditions impact tidal marshlands. This methodology allows communities to compare and contrast results from different years and locations.

The inaugural assessment from 16 National Estuarine Research Reserve locations showed the greatest impact from rising seas was in the New England region. Pacific marshes are generally at lower risk because of their higher elevations, plus oceanographic circulation tends to push water away from the coast, reducing impacts.

The data can inform decisions to protect people and property against storm surge and flooding, improve water quality, and maintain fish and wildlife habitat. For example, managers could acquire land near highly resilient marshes as buffer zones; reconnect moderately resilient marshes to rivers that nourish them with sediment; or move the least resilient marshes to higher ground. People also can use the data to compare marsh resilience at the local, state, regional, or national levels.

This baseline was made possible by a partnership between the research reserves and the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association using data from the reserves’ System-Wide Monitoring Program. (2017)

More Information: Assessing tidal marsh resilience

Partners: National Estuarine Research Reserve Association