Effects of Sea Level Rise on New England Salt Marshes: A Workshop Led by the New England NERRs

  • New England salt marshes are among the most vulnerable in the country. (Photo: West Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, Maine)

    New England salt marshes are among the most vulnerable in the country. (Photo: West Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, Maine)

  • Sea level rise threatens salt marsh by changing hydrology and salinity and increasing erosion, as seen here at Coggeshall Marsh, Rhode Island.

    Sea level rise threatens salt marsh by changing hydrology and salinity and increasing erosion, as seen here at Coggeshall Marsh, Rhode Island.

  • To build capacity for addressing New England salt marsh resilience, regional National Estuarine Research Reserves held a workshop in April 2018 to share adaptation strategies.

    To build capacity for addressing New England salt marsh resilience, regional National Estuarine Research Reserves held a workshop in April 2018 to share adaptation strategies.

  • Topics included marsh migration strategies, thin-layer placement, ditches and runnels, mapping, modeling, and assessments.

    Topics included marsh migration strategies, thin-layer placement, ditches and runnels, mapping, modeling, and assessments.

  • The workshop strengthened connections among researchers, natural resource managers, restoration practitioners, conservation groups, and policy-makers.

    The workshop strengthened connections among researchers, natural resource managers, restoration practitioners, conservation groups, and policy-makers.

There is growing evidence that the New England coast faces mounting challenges due to sea level rise, including the loss and degradation of salt marsh. Salt marshes play an important role for society in maintaining healthy fisheries, mitigating shoreline erosion, reducing flooding, and protecting water quality. Research has identified southern New England salt marshes as among the most vulnerable in the country, prompting researchers and practitioners to evaluate mechanisms of resilience and opportunities for conservation and management of these important ecosystems.

To build capacity for addressing salt marsh resilience, the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, in collaboration with the three other New England reserves, hosted a regional workshop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on April 26, 2018 for researchers, practitioners, and policy makers to discuss the growing body of literature on salt marshes and sea level rise. Building upon the success of a similar workshop held in Rhode Island in 2014, the project further strengthened the connections among the New England reserves through cross-reserve exchange, and provided an important information-sharing opportunity for the larger salt marsh restoration and adaptation community.