Marshes reduce storm flooding, filter contaminants out of water and provide habitat for birds, fish and other wildlife. However, these environmentally critical areas have decreased in extent along the coast in recent decades, and UD researchers are working to better understand the factors that affect marsh stability—especially in the face of sea level rise.
sea level rise
4:37 p.m., Oct. 31, 2012--The Office of the State Climatologist and the Delaware Geological Survey (DGS), both based at the University of Delaware, provided the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) and the National Weather Service with weather, coastal flooding and stream flooding information for Delaware during Hurricane Sandy.
Gauging sea-level rise in marshes
Global sea-level rise and sinking land are combining to cause water levels near Bowers Beach, Del., to climb at a rate faster than anywhere else on the Atlantic coast. Surrounding wetlands may change into mudflats if wetland elevation cannot keep pace with rising sea level. Sea Grant researchers Jack Puleo and Thomas McKenna are conducting field research in Kent County to increase our understanding of how marshes respond to sea-level rise. The work could help natural resource managers monitor marsh stability and predict future changes.
The geologic history of the surficial units of the Fairmount and Rehoboth Beach quadrangles is that of deposition of the Beaverdam Formation and its subsequent modification by erosion and deposition related to sea-level fluctuations during the Pleistocene. The geology reflects this complex history both onshore, in Rehoboth Bay, and offshore. Erosion during the late Pleistocene sea-level low stand and ongoing deposition offshore and in Rehoboth Bay during the Holocene rise in sea level represent the last of several cycles of erosion and deposition.
During the last two decades, storms such as Hurricanes Katrina and Ike along the Gulf of Mexico and Floyd and Hugo along the Atlantic Coast of the United States have resulted in significant loss of life, injuries, and property damages exceeding well over 100 billion dollars. Much of the damage associated with these and other tropical and extra-tropical weather systems is associated with severe coastal flooding. The purpose of this project is to develop a real-time coastal flood monitoring and warning system for the coastal communities in Kent County, Delaware. This system will serve as a prototype for similar early-warning systems, which may then be applied along the entire Delaware coast.
Rising and highstands of sea level during the middle to late Pleistocene deposited swamp to nearshore sediments along the margins of an ancestral Delaware Bay, Atlantic coastline, and tributaries to an ancestral Chesapeake Bay. These deposits are divided into three lithostratigraphic groups: the Delaware Bay Group, the Assawoman Bay Group (named herein), and the Nanticoke River Group (named herein). The Delaware Bay Group, mapped along the margins of Delaware Bay, is subdivided into the Lynch Heights Formation and the Scotts Corners Formation.