Sea-level rise is causing saltwater to move from coastal marshes and tidal creeks inland over forests and croplands. Tidal marshes are expanding into new areas because of the resulting salinization of soils and shallow groundwater, giving rise to “ghost forests” and affecting crops growing on the edges of farm fields. In response, project researchers are studying sites located in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia by monitoring the hydrological, biogeochemical, ecological and geomorphological impacts of salinization at marsh-forest-agriculture boundaries.
The Critical Zone includes all Earth processes from the tree canopy down to bedrock. Multiple universities are leading the NSF Critical Zone Collaborative Network (CZCN) project called The Coastal Critical Zone: Processes that transform landscapes and fluxes between land and sea. This group includes UD’s Holly Michael (lead PI), Angelia Seyfferth and Yu-Ping Chin as co-PIs, as well as collaborators at UD, Wesley College, University of Maryland, George Washington University, Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Boston University. DGS staff member Rachel McQuiggan is the data manager for the project, assisting with field data collection, processing, storage and dissemination.