Sunday, February 12, 2017

Study finds two New Jersey salt marshes 'losing ground'

USGS scientist Zafer Defne Measuring water and sediment movement at Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in NJ

Justin Auciello reports for NewsWorks:

Scientists working on an assessment of salt marshes along the U.S. coast say half of those they studied will be gone in up to 350 years if lost ground isn't regained.

Salt marshes provide vital habitat for animals and are important for their role in coastal protection. But the ecosystems along the coasts are falling victim to pressures such as sea-level rise and changing land uses, and are flooded frequently by seawater.

The U.S. Geological Survey set about to determine the danger erosion poses to eight salt marshes on the two coasts. The agency says it was surprised to find all eight of the marshes losing ground, some severely.

The study involved marshes in California, Maine, Maryland and New Jersey.

In the Garden State,
researchers studied Reedy Creek and Dinner Creek at New Jersey’s Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge and Schooner Creek.

They employed remote sensing techniques, including aerial photography, to determine how much of an individual marsh is open water and covered by marsh plants.

From there, the researchers compared the ratio of ponds, channels, and tidal flats to the overall vegetation to determine the chance of survival during changing environmental conditions.

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