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Bleak future for Bay area tidal marshes?
Date:11/17/2011

[San Francisco, CA] A new study, led by PRBO Conservation Science (PRBO), projects a bleak future for San Francisco Bay's tidal marshes under high-end sea-level rise scenarios that are increasingly likely. PRBO and colleagues found that in the worst case scenario 93% of San Francisco Bay's tidal marsh could be lost in the next 50-100 years [with 5.4 feet or 1.65 meters of sea-level rise, low sediment availability and no significant restoration].

PRBO's study indicates, however, that not all marshes will be lost and that society's actions today, including restoration currently underway, can keep more marshes intact as sea levels rise.

This first-of-its-kind study assesses how sea-level rise, suspended sediment availability, salinity and other factors might impact San Francisco Bay's tidal marshes. The study was published this week in the high-impact journal PLoS ONE (http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0027388 ). The study, which considered multiple scenarios to project possible future outcomes, was authored by researchers from PRBO as well as ESA PWA, University of San Francisco, UC Berkeley, and San Francisco State University.

Tidal marshes are vital to migratory birds, commercial fisheries, other wildlife and people. Marshes act like giant sponges, protecting highways, businesses, homes and other structures by reducing flood impacts in large storm events and as sea levels rise. Tidal marshes also filter out pollutants and sequester carbon.

"Tidal marshes are incredibly resilient to changes in sea level, depending on how fast seas rise and how much sediment is available. Unfortunately, marshes cannot keep up with the high-end sea-level rise predictions on their own. They will need our help." said Diana Stralberg, the study lead author of PRBO and the University of Alberta.

Sediment is essential to the ability of marshes to grow as s
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Contact: Melissa Pitkin
mpitkin@prbo.org
707-781-2555 x307
PRBO Conservation Science
Source:Eurekalert

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