September 16, 10am ET: SE CASC Special Seminar on Coastal Wetland Transformation

swamp canoe trail

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. Image: Alan Cressler.

This fall, Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center is teaming up with our partners at the South Atlantic Blueprint Team to co-sponsor a Special Science Seminar/ Third Thursday Web Forum.


Will the Coastal Wetlands Stay or Will They Go? Coastal Wetland Transformations in the South Atlantic Basin
Dr. Michelle Moorman, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Thursday, September 16 | 10AM ET

View the webinar recording.

Webinar Overview:

swamp canoe trail
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. Image: Alan Cressler.

Coastal wetland ecosystems provide critical habitat for many of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (U.S. FWS)’s trust species, and they deliver important ecological functions. Two recognized threats to coastal wetland stability and the wildlife that depend on these ecosystems are the projected acceleration of rates of sea-level rise (SLR) and/or wetland subsidence. Uncertainty over the future of our coastal wetlands, particularly when considering static SLR inundation models, has motivated the U.S. FWS National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) System to undertake systematic monitoring of coastal wetlands in NWRs across the country to determine if they will be resilient to SLR or undergo an ecological transformation. This will provide one piece of critical information needed to identify management actions needed to resist, accept or direct ecological transformations of coastal wetlands in the NWR system (Ezer and Atkinson 2014; Beckett et al. 2016).

Coastal Wetland Elevation Monitoring (CWEM) Program has monitored site-specific surface elevation and accretion trends for priority coastal wetland habitats on NWR across the South Atlantic Basin since 2012. We have determined rates of wetland elevation change and compared them to NOAA estimates of sea level rise across four coastal habitat types: oligohaline marshes, salt marshes, forested wetlands, and pocosin wetlands. In the long run, this effort will improve our understanding of processes that may be contributing to the resilience or lack thereof within each coastal wetland type. Results also will help managers make ecologically informed decisions with respect to conservation and management on refuges, such as whether restoration or transformative actions should be considered for implementation.

Learn more about the Speaker:

Dr. Michelle Moorman works with the U.S. FWS’s Southeast Region Inventory and Monitoring Branch. She manages projects related to improving our understanding of water resources and coastal ecology on Refuges. This includes overseeing the region’s WRIAs (Water resource Inventories and Assessments) and Coastal Wetland Elevation Monitoring network. In addition, she provides science support to refuges in the region and helps individual refuges with their planning efforts.