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

There is growing evidence that the New England coast faces mounting challenges due to sea level rise. One of the ways sea level rise threatens the coast is through degradation and loss of salt marshes, which play an important role for society in mitigating shoreline erosion, maintaining healthy fisheries, reducing flooding, and protecting water quality. Research has identified southeast New England salt marshes as some of the most vulnerable marshes 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 for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to discuss the growing body of literature on salt marshes and sea level rise. The workshop also addressed the steps that can be taken to minimize loss while adapting to unavoidable change. The one-day event, held in conjunction with the New England Estuarine Research Society’s 2018 spring meeting, provided a timely forum for information sharing, collaboration building, and the coordination of efforts. The workshop was an important touch-point for attendees as they considered the challenges and solutions for salt marsh resilience in the face of sea level rise.