NOAA Assesses Tidal Marsh Resilience

The Takeaway: In a first, NOAA scientists standardized a multi-measurement assessment of tidal marsh resilience to sea level rise.

The System-Wide Monitoring Program from the National Estuarine Research Reserves was used to develop a standardized approach, the first of its kind, for assessing how changing environmental conditions impact tidal marshlands. It allows communities to compare and contrast results from different years and locations. The assessment from 16 research reserves showed the greatest impact from rising seas was in New England. 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