Climate Change, Rising Sea Level and the Fate of Coastal Wetlands
Alkaff, Huda F.
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Coastal wetlands provide numerous ecological functions and protect urban areas from saltwater intrusion and storm surge. These areas occur at the land-sea interface and are strongly influenced by changing sea-level. Hence, it is of interest to characterize the effects of sea-level rise anticipated to accompany global climate change in the next century. I used a geographic information system (GIS) to define the impacts of sealevel rise on coastal wetlands. This paper presents an analysis of perimeter and interior wetland loss and/or gain of the Sapelo Island complex due to sea-level rise, river deposition and land erosion, during the period from 1920 to 1993. Results indicate significant perimeter and interior changes (loss and/or gain) in the coastal wetlands of the Sapelo Island complex. This study is a prerequisite for the quantification and prediction of responses of coastal wetlands to sea-level rise.