In tidal wetlands, small differences in ground elevation can have a large impact on hydrology, vegetation, and habitat (e.g., assessment of wetland health and stability, habitat, flood risk, and coastal inundation).
Beatrice O'Hara of Delaware Geological Survey presented a poster titled "Sediment Carbon Stock, Accumulation Rates and Potential Erosion-Induced Carbon Emissions in the Delaware Bay Tidal Salt Marshes" at "The Earth's Carbon Cycle in the 21st Century: Climate, Ecosystems, and Energy," held April
Sea-level rise, dissipating dunes and susceptibility to storm surges are a few of the factors that contribute to a vulnerable coast. A coast at risk means an increased potential for damage to coastal communities and ecosystems in the event of tropical systems, nor'easters or other damaging weather.
More than 40 experts representing state and federal agencies and regional universities gathered to discuss these and other important issues during the Coastal Flood Research, Modeling and Monitoring Workshop on Sept. 16.
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.