Sea Grant Sea Level Rise

Incorporating Future Infrastructure Decisions into Salt Marsh Migration Models

This project focuses on developing improved modeling tools to predict the effects of coastal armoring on salt marsh migration as sea level rises.  As sea levels rise, marshes migrate inland but begin to be eliminated when the marsh is ‘squeezed’ between rising water levels and armored shorelines.  Armoring of shorelines includes the installation of hard structures that prevent erosion and flooding, such as bulkheads and revetments.  Currently, the effects of anthropogenic armoring in habitat change and sea level rise modeling is oversimplified.  This project incorporates the complexities of armoring into these models to produce more realistic predictions of future marsh habitat extent.  This improved modeling will allow decision-makers to better understand the future implications of armoring decisions and weigh the trade-offs of salt marsh conservation and infrastructure protection, as well as identify areas that are better suited for either conservation or development.