Predictions of Coastal Vegetation Change Associated with Sea Level Rise
Andrew Elmore- Associate Professor University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science- Appalachian Laboratory
Sea level rise caused by global climate change is forcing coastal environments to adapt to rapidly changing conditions. Wetland migration inland, ideally along corridors of flat undeveloped land, might allow these unique habitats to persist into the future. However, in some areas developed land protected from tides through the construction of bulkheads and levies and natural areas of elevated land will constrain the area of marsh and wetland forest, leading to a loss of biodiversity as habitat area for wetland species is decreased. Therefore, we developed and implemented a data-based modeling framework to predict changes in wetland habitat for the National Parks along the Potomac River Estuary, including detailed maps of current and projected wetland habitat. Our results are of interest to anyone who lives or visits the shores of the Potomac River, and provide critical information for targeting areas for preemptive actions aimed at maintaining regional biodiversity.