Climate change impacts on erosion, mass wasting, and the supply of sediment to tidal wetlands in the Northeast

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Climate change is likely to impact erosion rates, the magnitude and frequency of extreme rainfall/mass wasting events, and the accumulation of sediment in coastal areas. However, long-term rates of erosion and sediment delivery to coastal systems are poorly constrained and there is limited understanding of the relative effects of climate change versus land-use change on these processes. Furthermore, existing instrumental and historical observations are inadequate for constraining the frequency of extreme events and evaluating the potential for changes in the magnitude and frequency of these events through time.

This project will bolster two distinct but related research projects: (1) an ongoing study by Jonathan Woodruff and Brian Yellen investigating the vulnerability of tidal marshes in the northeastern US to ongoing sea level rise and the impacts of climate and land use change on the supply of sediment from upstream tributaries to these wetland systems, and (2) an ongoing investigation of climatic control of long-term changes in upland erosion and the frequency of flood induced mass-wasting in the northeastern US by Timothy Cook.  This project will build off of a pre-existing NOAA National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative supported project to evaluate the impact of dam-impounded sediments on wetland sustainability in the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve (HRNERR). The additional NE CASC funds allows for graduate involvement in this project and provide support for linking the HRNERR project with a separate study by co-PI Tim Cook who, as a 2018-2019 Charles Bullard Fellowship at Harvard Forest, is evaluating climatic and land use impacts on sediment yields for the Northeast Region.

  • Presented at AGU on findings from impoundment sediments. December, 2018.
  • Stakeholder Workshop : Climate change impacts on erosion, mass wasting, and the supply of sediment to tidal wetlands in the Northeast. Norrie Point Field Station, Livingston Mills, NY.  June 4, 2018. 
  • Conducted a webinar with ~20 stakeholders in attendance to discuss final data products to support stakeholder goals of dam removal guidance and information regarding the resilience of Hudson tidal marshes. January, 2019
  • Tim Cook presented findings at the annual meeting of the Northeastern Section of the Geological Society of America, March, 2019
  • Caroline presented a poster at the Hudson River Environmental Society Symposium on May 8, 2019