"It's only under the high sea-level rise and low sediment scenarios that marsh losses are catastrophic. Hopefully people will wake up to the issues before sea-level rise starts to get really bad," said John Callaway, one of the study's authors from the University of San Francisco.
Scientists currently expect rates of sea-level rise to accelerate in the second half of this century. Therefore, the time to act is now.
"The real hope for San Francisco Bay's tidal marshes, for the birds and fish that depend upon them, and for the many benefits tidal marshes provide to our communities, is working together now to restore existing priority marshes and create new ones where feasible. We also must find win-win approaches to redirecting development, away from areas where tidal marshes could be restored and away from where marshes could move to over time," explained Ellie Cohen, PRBO's President and CEO.
The PRBO collaborative study uses 5.4 feet of sea level rise as the high end scenarios based on current scientific literature.
"Some scientists are now considering as much as 16.4 feet (5 m) of sea level rise over the next 100 years due to accelerating rates of greenhouse gas pollution and new research about how ice sheet loss has occurred in the past. Sea level rise could increase much faster this century. From a development and societal perspective, making wise choices today will reduce future costs. Now is the time to incorporate nature-based solutions to these threats to society- for wildlife and for our communities," said Ms. Cohen.
Maintaining healthy tidal marshes over the next century will require protecting the remaining undeveloped adjacent lands throughout the Bay region, especially in sediment-rich areas around Petaluma River, Napa River and South San Francisco Bay.
|Contact: Melissa Pitkin|
PRBO Conservation Science