An NCCOS-funded researcher updated his innovative coastal marsh model and provided an interactive web based application. The web accessible zero-dimensional Marsh Equilibrium Model (MEM III) provides users a hands-on tool to simulate how a tidal marsh community interacts with the physical environment to maintain its functionality under various sea level rise scenarios.
Dr. James Morris (University of South Carolina, not related to the Lionfish researcher from our Beaufort laboratory), with funding from NCCOS, updated his 2002 MEM I model to include treatment of the below ground degradation of organic matter, which allows users to perform sophisticated experiments to simulate marsh growth and sedimentation under various tidal regimes and sea level rise scenarios.
The web tool computes marsh response to sea level rise with several potential outputs that reflect the current state of a specific marsh as well as the effect of various rates of sea level on marsh structure and function. The user also has the opportunity to experiment with differing sediment loads, tidal regimes including micro or macro ranges, marsh depth and biomass. Intertidal marsh ecosystems are threatened worldwide due to manmade stressors and rising sea levels.
Natural resource managers need to understand how various species of marsh plants that form the living structure of the ecosystem are affected by the surrounding water, with tidal ebb and flow, and differing salinities, sediment load and time submerged.