The RI Coastal Resources Management Council and its project partners have released the Rhode Island Sea Level Affecting Marsh Migration (SLAMM) project summary report that details the findings and results of an evaluation of the response of the state’s coastal wetlands to sea level rise scenarios of one, three and five feet.
Coastal wetlands, especially tidal marshes, are one of the most susceptible ecosystems to the effects of climate change and, specifically, sea level rise. Given projected sea level rise, a considerable percentage of the state’s coastal wetlands will be lost by the end of the century unless upland areas abutting the wetlands are protected or otherwise set aside to allow inland wetland migration in response to sea level rise.
Rhode Island faces the quandary of how to best quantify this response, identify potentially affected areas and future coastal wetlands, use that information to develop and apply adaptive management strategies to protect and conserve these abutting uplands, and restore degraded wetlands.
The SLAMM project – funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – during its two-year duration with in-kind services provided by the CRMC and The Nature Conservancy, assessed projected wetland response to the impacts of sea level rise out to the year 2100. The results collected from the project will assist the state and local communities in developing adaptive management strategies and practices, conservation efforts, and aid in the design of coastal wetland adaptation projects.
Project partners included The Nature Conservancy, University of Rhode Island GSO, URI Coastal Resources Center and R.I. Sea Grant, Save The Bay, Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and Roger Williams University School of Law Marine Affairs.
Over the two year life of the project, data was collected and analyzed for the modeling effort. The project team also engaged all 21 coastal communities to collect information used to revise initial draft maps.