NSF Sediment Project Funded

Tidal marshes are productive ecosystems that provide key services to society such as carbon sequestration, storm surge buffering, and water-quality mitigation. The long-term stability of coastal wetlands is explained by interactions between sea level, plant growth, sediment supply, and wetland accretion, but coastal wetland stability is threatened by land use change and accelerating rates of sea-level rise. Lead principal investigator Nathaniel Weston (Department of Geography & the Environment at Villanova University), together with co-PIs James Morris (University of South Carolina), Scott Neubauer (Virginia Commonwealth University), and Chris Craft (Indiana University) were funded $665,660 by the National Science Foundation for a project titled “Human Alteration of Sediment Delivery to the Coast – Legacies Of Land Use, Coastal Wetland Accretion, and Future Vulnerability to Sea Level Rise.” The goal of this project is to understand how past and current land use in watersheds that drain to the East Coast of the United States has altered sediment concentrations in rivers, to determine how changes in sediment supply influences sediment accretion rates in coastal wetlands, and to project future wetland vulnerability along the East Coast under various scenarios of sea level rise and sediment supply. This collaborative project includes a strong commitment to integrate research and undergraduate education.