Marsh Sustainability and Hydrology Data

Data Resource
March 2021
Spivak field work photo

Parallel grid ditches were dug in approximately 90% of mid-Atlantic and New England salt marshes in the 1920s through the 1940s. Today, managers must navigate the effects of past actions when making decisions about marsh hydrology and drainage that impact human health, ecosystem services, and marsh sustainability. Managers must also consider how stressors such as sea-level rise impact marshes. A collaborative research project helped to address this challenge by working iteratively with end user groups to develop a decision support tool for marsh hydrology management strategies that promote sustainability and delivery of valuable ecosystem services under future sea-level scenarios.

About this resource
The project generated seven datasets listed below. The dataset description summarizes the data types, collection methods, and status of availability in more detail.

  • Continuous Monitoring Data From Great Barnstable Marsh on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 2017‐19. The U.S. Geological Survey measured parameters for groundwater wells (water elevation, water depth below land surface, salinity, and water temperature), soil and air temperature, and other meteorological parameters. All of these parameters affect plant productivity and are key components of salt marsh carbon cycling, carbon storage, and its ability to maintain elevation in response to changing sea level. These datasets can be used to evaluate changes in water levels across ditched and natural salt marsh regions and provide information for any future studies of salt marsh productivity and geomorphic models in Great Barnstable Marsh.
  • Source code of the marsh evolution model 

The following datasets have been archived and will be made publicly available at this site by fall 2022. Prior to this date, individuals may reach out to Amanda Spivak ( to discuss potential applications and request access to the data.

  • Bulk soil properties and composition within the ditched and natural sections of the Great Barnstable Marsh, MA, 2018
  • Collection, analysis, and age‐dating of sediment cores from Great Barnstable Marsh, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 2018
  • Soil properties within ditched and natural marsh in Great Barnstable Marsh, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 2018
  • Plant community properties within ditched and natural marsh within Great Barnstable Marsh, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 2018
  • Porewater chemistry from ditched and natural marsh within Great Barnstable Marsh, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 2018