Tag Archives: Marshes and Wetlands

Living Shoreline Permitting Made Easier

Coastal restoration, living shorelines. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care


The state of North Carolina is well on its way to making it easier for property owners to build living shorelines, as it approved Feb. 27, the final adoption of temporary rule 15A NCAC 7H .2700 general permit for construction of riprap sills for wetland enhancement in estuarine and public trust waters.

Marsh sills, a type of living shoreline usually built parallel to the shore and typically made of native materials such as plants or oyster shells, are built in conjunction with existing, created or restored wetlands, to stabilize estuarine shorelines, lessen erosion and improve habitats…

Read Full Article; Coastal Review (03-01-2019)

Rethinking Living Shorelines, By Orrin H. Pilkey, Rob Young, Norma Longo, and Andy Coburn;Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines / Western Carolina University, March 1, 2012, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University
In response to the detrimental environmental impacts caused by traditional erosion control structures, environmental groups, state and federal resource management agencies, now advocate an approach known as “Living Shorelines”that embraces the use of natural habitat elements such as indigenous vegetation, to stabilize and protect eroding shorelines.

A softer approach, living shorelines as an alternative to a hardened coast; PortCity (05-12-2018)

NOAA Study Finds Marshes, Reefs, Beaches Can Enhance Coastal Resilience, NOAA (04-29-2015)

NOAA study finds ‘living shorelines’ can lessen climate change’s effects, NOAA (12-22-2015)

Living Shorelines: Better Than Bulkheads, Coastal Review Online (02-08-2016)
More than 14,000 miles – 14 percent of continental U.S. coastline — has been armored with hardened structures. Hardened structures cause elevated rates of erosion on the shoreward side of the structure…

Series of storms more than 150 years ago caused extensive erosion of the Carpinteria Salt Marsh

Santa barbara coast. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care.


Flooding isn’t new to the Santa Barbara coastline. However, the inundation doesn’t always come from the mountains as it did last month in Montecito. Back in 1861-2, a series of large storms washed beach sand more than a quarter mile inland into what today is the Carpinteria Salt Marsh.

Although historical accounts document the inland flooding, little has been known about how those storms impacted a now heavily developed California coast…

Read Full Article; Science Daily (02-26-2018)

Natural Response; UCSB News Current (02-20-2018)

Trucking Mud to the Beaches Means More Sand but Dirtier Waters, CA; Santa Barbara Independent (02-08-2018)
When Santa Barbara County dumps tons of mud from the catastrophic debris flow of January 9 on the shores of Goleta and Carpinteria, this wasn’t like anything that’s happened before. So residents are asking, “Will there be long-term effects? Might there be other locations that can share the impacts..?”

Sea level rise threatens to wipe out West Coast wetlands

The Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve preserves one of the largest remaining examples of coastal wetland habitats in the southern California sub-region. Captions and Photo source: NOAA


Rising seas will drown most wetlands on the U.S. West Coast in less than a century, a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey warns. In many areas, the wetlands won’t be able to migrate inland without help…

Read Full Article; Inside Climate News (02-22-2018)

Pacific coast marshes more resistant to rising seas than Atlantic

Pescadero Marsh and Beach, California. Photo source: ©© John Weiss


A NOAA-sponsored study shows that Pacific coast tidal marshes are more resistant to rising sea levels from climate change than marshes in the Atlantic. Pacific marshes are generally at higher elevations than Atlantic marshes, and Pacific oceanographic circulation tends to push water away from the coast, reducing the effect of sea level rise.

The study, conducted by NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS), established a national baseline for monitoring the effects of climate change on estuaries. NERRS conducted this study at 16 sites in 13 coastal states.

The technical report, Assessing tidal marsh resilience to sea-level rise at broad geographic scales with multi-metric indicesoffsite link, was published in the journal Biological Conservation.

Of the areas evaluated, one marsh in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Islandoffsite link and another in Massachusetts’s Waquoit Bayoffsite link were found to be the most vulnerable.

The assessment was based on an innovative approach that evaluates the ability of tidal marshes to thrive as sea levels rise according to five categories of resilience: marsh elevation; change in elevation; sediment supply; tidal range; and rate of sea level rise.

“This study shows that not all tidal marshes are equally vulnerable to sea level rise,” said Jeff Payne, Ph.D., director, NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management. “Even more importantly, it gives coastal managers a much needed new tool – the capacity to understand and compare the ability of marshes to persist in the face of rising seas. This will help us make decisions on protecting marshes in the years ahead.”

Tidal marshes protect people and property against storm surge and flooding, improve water quality, and create habitats for commercially important fish and wildlife. In the past, most marshes have adapted to changing sea levels. What is unknown at this time is how marsh lands will react as rates of sea level rise accelerate. Documenting current conditions and providing a baseline for detecting future change is important to future research.

Coastal communities can use this marsh resilience assessment, and future studies based on it, as a guide to help them and their leaders determine the appropriate steps needed to protect their marshes. Examples include:

  • Acquire land near highly resilient marshes as buffer zones.
  • Reconnect moderately resilient marshes to the rivers that nourish them with sediment.
  • Move the least resilient marshes to higher ground.

“Long-term monitoring across a national system allows reserves to act as sentinels for coastal environments,” says Kenny Raposa, Ph.D., research coordinator at Rhode Island’s Narragansett National Estuarine Research Reserve. “By collecting data that shows how estuaries respond to change, we can provide early warning signals that will help communities adapt to the effects of a changing climate.”

From federal agencies managing national refuge networks to managers of individual marsh sites, anyone with the relevant data also can use this new approach to compare marsh resilience at the local, state, regional or national levels. For a marsh assessment calculation tool visit nerra.org/marshoffsite link.

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a network of 28 coastal sites designated to protect and study estuarine systems. Established through the Coastal Zone Management Act, the reserves represent a partnership program between NOAA and coastal states. NOAA provides funding and national guidance, and each site is managed on a daily basis by a lead state agency or university with input from local partners.

Original Article And Learn More; NOAA (11-15-2016)

New study shows rapid marsh bank sediment build up does not equate land loss resilience

Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care


When the banks of a marsh channel accumulate sediment at a faster rate than relative sea level rise, it may seem like the marsh is resilient. However, a new study published in Geology proposes a new framework to look at sediment fluxes in marsh channels that takes into account the natural process of sediment recycling.

Understanding how sediments are transported within salt marshes is critical to predict the effect that processes such as nutrient loading, sea-level rise and sediment supply have on marsh erosion…

Read Full Article, Science Daily

Coastal marshes more resilient to sea-level rise than previously believed, Science Daily (12-19-2015)
Rising seas threaten coastal marshes worldwide. But a new Duke University study finds marshes are more resilient than previously believed…

Salt Marsh Plants Key to Reducing Coastal Erosion and Flooding, Phys.Org (10-19-2014)
The effectiveness of salt marshes – wetlands which are flooded and drained by tides – in protecting coastal areas in times of severe weather has been quantified in a study by researchers from the University of Cambridge…

NOAA Study Finds Marshes, Reefs, Beaches Can Enhance Coastal Resilience, NOAA (04-29-2015)
The resilience of U.S. coastal communities to storms, flooding, erosion and other threats can be strengthened when they are protected by natural infrastructure such as marshes, reefs, and beaches, or with hybrid approaches, such as a “living shoreline”…

More than a Billion People Depend on Wetlands

Photo source: ©© WorldFish


It is estimated that more than a billion people around the world make their living directly from wetlands, including from fishing, rice farming or handicrafts. Other sectors such as travel and eco-tourism, water transport and aquaculture also depend on the health of these ecosystems.

And yet some 64 per cent of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900; many of them converted for agricultural use or urban development, putting a billion livelihoods at risk. Coastal, marine and inland wetlands are declining fast. Approximately 40 per cent have been degraded in just over 40 years according to the Wetland Extent Trend and this decline is continuing at an accelerated rate of 1.5 per cent annually…

Read Full Article, UNEP

Normal weather drives salt marsh erosion

Hatches Harbor, Cape Cod. Photo source: ©© Lydia Mann


Waves from moderate storms, rather than violent events such as hurricanes, inflict the most loss on coastal wetlands. Globally, salt marshes are being lost to waves, changes in land use, higher sea levels, loss of sediment from upstream dams and other factors.

Many initiatives around the world now seek to protect and rebuild salt marshes. Evidence also suggests that, at least in some coastal environments, marshes can adapt to rising sea levels…

Read Full Article, Science Daily

Coastal marshes more resilient to sea-level rise than previously believed, Science Daily (12-19-2015)

NOAA study finds ‘living shorelines’ can lessen climate change’s effects, NOAA (12-22-2015)

Coastal marshes more resilient to sea-level rise than previously believed

Salt marsh, Cape Cod. Photo source: ©© Putneypic


Rising seas threaten coastal marshes worldwide. But a new Duke University study finds marshes are more resilient than previously believed. Elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 boost plant biomass production, allowing marshes to trap more sediment and generate more organic soil. This may elevate the threshold rate of relative sea-level rise at which marsh drowning is initiated by up to 60 percent and partially offset the effects of reduced sediment delivery and accelerating sea-level rise…

Read Full Article, Science Daily

Photos: Spectacular Saltwater Marshes of the Eastern US

Hatches Harbor salt marsh, Cape Cod. The Hatches Harbor salt marsh is a remnant of a larger salt marsh complex that existed at the time of the first European settlement. USGS. Photo source: ©© Lydia Mann


The extensive estuarine saltwater marshes of eastern North America are large, flat, grassy areas that are flooded daily by the semidiurnal tides of the Atlantic Ocean…

Read Full Article, Livescience

Salt Marsh Plants Key to Reducing Coastal Erosion and Flooding, Phys.Org (10-19-2014)

Northern Coastal Marshes More Vulnerable to Nutrient Pollution, Science Daily (04-07-2015)

Why Are U.S. Eastern Seaboard Salt Marshes Falling Apart? Science Daily (10-18-2012)

Marshes Hold Clues of Ancient Hurricanes, Coastal Review Online (05-30-2012)