Many Coastal Wetlands likely to Disappear this Century

AGU Release No. 10–41 1 December 2010

Many coastal wetlands worldwide, including several on the U.S. Atlantic coast, may be more sensitive than previously thought to climate change and sea-level rise projections for the 21st century.

Scientists engaged in an international research modeling effort have made this conclusion in a paper published today in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. The researchers identified conditions under which coastal wetlands could survive rising sea level.

Using a rapid sea-level rise scenario, most coastal wetlands worldwide will disappear near the end of the 21st century, the research team finds. Using the contrasting slow sea-level rise projection, wetlands with low sediment availability and low tidal ranges are vulnerable and may drown. However, in the slow sea-level rise projection, wetlands with higher sediment availability would be more likely to survive.