The Nicholas Institute collaborated with six eastern seaboard states (North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York) and PlanIt Forward, LLC on a U.S. Climate Alliance-funded project to map coastal habitats’ contributions to coastal protection and blue carbon storage.
The Nicholas Institute modeled:
- Protection service from current coastal habitats
- Salt marsh loss and migration with sea level rise (and implications for inland coastal habitats)
- Current and future carbon storage in coastal salt marsh and sea grass habitats (blue carbon).
The resulting maps show where coastal habitats protect the shoreline from hazards such as storms and erosion (Figure 1), how the extent and location of coastal habitats are projected to change due to sea level rise, and the effect of these changes on the amount of carbon stored by coastal habitats through the end of the century (Figure 2).
Next steps for this project include analyses to assess the effect of several key uncertainties, identified during project workshops, on the habitat change and carbon flux results. This will help to focus future research to reduce uncertainty in these estimates.
Thanks to our state partners for their guidance and feedback on this project.
North Carolina: Carolyn Currin (NOAA), Lora Eddy (The Nature Conservancy), Stacey Feken (Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership), Sarah Spiegler (NC Sea Grant)
Virginia: Molly Mitchell (Virginia Institute of Marine Science), Ann Phillips (Virginia Office of the Governor), Mark Luckenbach (Virginia Institute of Marine Science), Tom Allen (Old Dominion University), Elizabeth Spach (Virginia Office of the Governor), and Benjamin Nettleton (Virginia Office of the Governor)
Maryland: Elliott Campbell (MD Department of Natural Resources), Nicole Carlozo (MD Department of Natural Resources), Jason Dubow (MD Department of Planning), Susan Payne (MD Department of Agriculture), and Deborah Herr Cornwell (MD Department of Planning)
Delaware: Mark Biddle, Kari St. Laurent, and Jennifer DeMooy (all DE Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control)
New Jersey: Becky Hill, Metthea Yepsen, David DuMont, Elizabeth Semple, and Ruth Foster (all NJ Department of Environmental Protection)
New York: Riobart Breen and Willow Eyres (both NY Department of Environmental Conservation)