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Marsh Ecology and Sea Level Rise at SF Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Summer

Summary / Description

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As tidal marshes are increasingly threatened by a changing climate, managers need to consider how to evaluate the potential of marshes to migrate inland. Recent modeling studies demonstrate that marshes with good landward connections are most resilient because of their ability to shift upland. Hard, impermeable barriers – from levees, to roads, and other coastal development – constrain marsh migration. One solution to this problem is to ‘soften’ the shoreline by modifying hard structures.  China Camp State Park, a core component of the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR), is one of the few remaining historic tidal wetlands in the San Francisco Estuary. China Camp’s salt marsh harbors robust populations of endangered species and is a leading site for scientific research on tidal marsh ecology.  However, there is one distinct problem with China Camp’s marsh-upland landscape; i.e., a county road bisects two inland lobes of the marsh complex, disrupting its hydrology and ultimately preventing the marsh from adjusting to sea level rise by moving inland.

To address this challenge, a team of scientists, coastal managers, economists, and civil engineers has come together to develop a pilot study.  Key considerations include: what kind of infrastructure modification is necessary to connect the wetlands to the uplands; and what is the economic feasibility of these approaches as well as costs and benefits for a range of approaches?  Our plan is to utilize the ‘Our Coast, Our Future’ (OCOF) sea level rise and storm surge model (http://prbo.org/ocof) to explore scenarios of flooding and marsh response and, in conjunction with the NOAA Coastal Service’s economic framework for climate adaptation, to evaluate associated economic costs and benefits.  This panel will discuss major findings from this pilot study, and lessons learned as it relates to the broader research and management relevance of this work across the state.  The team is currently scheduled to provide a panel discussion at the California Adaptation Forum moderated by Heidi Nutters, Coastal Training Program coordinator for the NERR, scheduled for Aug 19-20 in Sacramento later this year.

We are looking for a summer intern to work on this project, and possibly other projects as well, who will be housed at the NERR headquarters at the Romberg Tiburon Center, a marine and estuarine research station on the bay along the Tiburon Peninsula.  The intern will be supervised by the Interim Director of the NERR, Dr. Michael Vasey, as well as Ms. Nutters.

If interested, please contact Dr. Michael Vasey, Manager, San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, mcvasey@gmail.com

Skills Required

Interns should ideally will be good writers, will have familiarity with coastal wetland issues and climate change, and will also have insights into economics.  Interns will be asked to help the panel prepare for the Climate Adaptation Forum, work with the OCOF team on a web page that describes the project, and on a summary document that the NERR will be able to draw upon to submit future funding applications to bring this project to reality.

Other Information

Internship Location: Romberg Tiburon Center in Tiburon, CA: http://rtc.sfsu.edu/. Please note that this location is not very transit accessible, interns will need to be avid bicyclists or have a car.

Intern Supervisor: Mike Vasey / Number of slots available: 1

Related State(s):
Shorter web link for sharing: http://wp.me/p4kbbx-96