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Webinar: Linked by the sand: Leveraging natural synergies between saltmarshes and barrier islands to improve coastal resiliency

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Tuesday, 28 September 2021, 12:00

Tuesday, September 28, 2021. 12:00 PM. Webinar: Linked by the sand: Leveraging natural synergies between saltmarshes and barrier islands to improve coastal resiliency. Christopher Hein, Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Sponsored by NOAA. Register here (Requires Adobe Connect).

Abstract: Barrier islands and their adjacent saltmarshes have a synergistic relationship: wind and storm processes transport sediment from the beaches and dunes to create and build marshes along the landward fringe of the island. In turn, these marshes exert a stabilizing influence on the island by forming a platform onto which the island migrates, consequently slowing landward barrier migration and inhibiting storm breaching. This presentation will introduce these barrier- marsh couplings and highlight a novel framework for applying them to coastal management. Further, it will detail a case study of the design of a marsh creation project that showcases the engagement of scientists, engineers, stakeholders, and policymakers. Specifically, it will describe (1) the geologic and ecologic data obtained from the southern 4 km of Cedar Island (Virginia, USA) and nearby back barrier tidal channels, tidal flats, and flood-tidal deltas and (2) the use of those data to develop an engineering and design plan for the construction of a high (46 ha) and low (42 ha) fringing marsh platform located behind the island, proximal to a former ephemeral inlet. Construction of this marsh would(1) provide additional habitat and ecosystem benefits, (2) slow the rapid migration of Cedar Island, and (3) hinder island breaching. The presentation will also chronicle project design selection, which involved balancing best-available existing science and models, considering design and financial constraints, identifying stakeholder preferences, and maximizing restoration benefits of habitat provision and shoreline protection. Ultimately, the project to be presented "presently at the final design and permitting stage" may enhance the storm and sea-level rise resilience of the island, backbarrier marshes and lagoons, and the mainland town community; and provide an example of a novel science-based approach to coastal resilience that could be applied to managing other coupled marsh-barrier settings.

Bio(s): Christopher Hein is a coastal marine geologist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), William & Mary (W&M). He received a bachelor's degree in Earth Science from Cornell University in 2003 and a doctoral degree in coastal geology from Boston University in 2012. Prior to starting at VIMS in 2013, Hein completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Hein's research is primarily focused on coastal change, and forecasting the impacts of sea-level rise, changing coastal sediment supplies, and increased frequency/intensity of storms on barrier islands, dunes, marshes, tidal inlets, and the communities that live, work, and recreate on them. He does this primarily through looking at the past record of coastal change over the last several thousand years, preserved in the sediment and the historic records. Hein is also an active educator: he currently advises four graduate students and six undergraduates, and co-directs the VIMS/W&M Undergraduate Program in Marine Science.

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