Enhancing the Adaptive Capacity of Coastal Wetlands in the Face of Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Development

Michael Osland, USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center

Project Completion:  March 2018. This project has now been completed.
Implements Science Plan Theme: 2, 4, and 5


In the 21st century, accelerated sea-level rise and coastal development are expected to greatly alter coastal landscapes across the globe. The future of mangrove forests, salt marshes, and salt flats (i.e., coastal wetlands) is uncertain, and coastal environmental managers are increasingly challenged to develop conservation strategies that will increase the resilience of these valuable ecosystems. In addition to providing fish and wildlife habitat, coastal wetlands can improve water quality, ameliorate flooding impacts, support coastal food webs, and protect coastlines. One strategy for preparing for the effects of sea-level rise is to ensure that there is space available for coastal wetlands to adapt to sea-level rise. In a recent study, we identified areas where coastal wetlands may adapt via landward migration along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast, one of the most sea-level rise sensitive and wetland-rich regions of the world. Here, we will follow up on that work and produce customized landscape conservation-design products focused on landward migration corridors for coastal wetlands. In broad terms, the aim of the proposed work is to provide scientific information that can be used by environmental managers to enhance the adaptive capacity of coastal wetlands in the face of sea-level rise and coastal development.

This project is jointly funded by the South Central Climate Science Center.

More Information

View a recorded GCPO LCC webinar that presents results of this project and a related coastal resilience project: