As the sea level rises, roads, homes and hotels will all be affected. So will natural habitats, like the miles and miles of marshes on Georgia’s coast. A University of Georgia project aims to help the state adapt.
The sea level has gone up about a foot in the last century, and scientists project it could go up another three feet in the next century.
“Areas that are now dry land, will become intertidal in the future,” said Clark Alexander, a coastal geologist at UGA’s Skidaway Insititute of Oceanography. “And so these are areas where marshes will develop over time.”
Alexander recently finished mapping salt and freshwater on the coast, in order to figure out where marshes will go.
“If you know where the salinity will be, then you can predict where the different marshes, the salt marsh, the brackish march, the freshwater marshes, where they will be in the future as well,” he said.
He’s sharing the data with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, which can use it to protect places that aren't marshes now, but eventually likely will be.
“The DNR has been very active in identifying areas that are not developed now, that will provide good areas for the marsh to migrate up onto, to preserve those habitats,” said Alexander.
During the data collection, researchers also confirmed the elevation of marshes, so that projections of how floods and high tides will affect them will be more accurate.