Sustainable Coastal Habitat Restoration in the Pacific Northwest: Modeling and Managing the Effects, Feedbacks, and Risks Associated with Climate ChangeEPA Grant Number: R833014
Title: Sustainable Coastal Habitat Restoration in the Pacific Northwest: Modeling and Managing the Effects, Feedbacks, and Risks Associated with Climate Change
Investigators: Rybczyk, John , Hood, W. Greg , Khangaonkar, Tarang , Reyes, Enrique , Yang, Zhaoqing
Institution: Western Washington University , Battelle Memorial Institute , East Carolina University , Skagit System Cooperative
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: April 1, 2007 through March 31, 2010 (Extended to March 31, 2012)
Project Amount: $879,247
RFA: Nonlinear Responses to Global Change in Linked Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems and Effects of Multiple Factors on Terrestrial Ecosystems: A Joint Research Solicitation- EPA, DOE (2005) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Global Climate Change , Ecosystems , Climate Change
The overall objective of this proposal is to develop a predictive landscape simulation model, incorporating non-linear feedbacks, of the ecological and geomorphological consequences of climate-induced sea-level rise and river flow alteration in two of the most ecologically significant estuarine systems in Puget Sound, Padilla Bay and Skagit Bay. We will use the model to guide the course of restoration and management efforts, given climate change, as they relate to salmon habitat in Puget Sound.
We will develop and link a spatially explicit hydrodynamic and sediment transport model of Padilla Bay and Skagit Bay to a mechanistic wetland elevation dynamics and vegetation unit model, and models of tidal channel geomorphology and juvenile salmon abundance and distribution. The linked models will be initialized, calibrated and validated using extensive site-specific data sets that we have already developed and data collected as part of this proposal. We will run the model under various sea level rise and river flow scenarios.
Effective and sustainable habitat restoration needs to anticipate future environmental conditions to ensure that restoration efforts will be robust and capable of surviving anticipated climate change. We will use this model to examine how recovery goals (e.g. hectares to be restored) should be adjusted depending on how much marsh progradation or erosion occurs over the next century, and we will characterize regions in the estuary that would be high- or low-risk restoration sites depending on their likely vulnerability or resilience to climate change. It is precisely this “vulnerability/resilience” response to climate change that is non-linear and thus makes this proposal applicable to this specific solicitation. We anticipate immediately incorporating this model into planning and management processes used by local Tribes, local restoration planning organizations (e.g., the Skagit Watershed Council), and regional restoration planning organizations (e.g., the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Washington Shared Strategy, and the Puget Sound Nearshore Restoration Program, among others).