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Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative

Weeks Bay reserve

Overview

This Cooperative incorporates the coastline and barrier islands from the Suwannee River in the Florida panhandle west to the Pearl River, at the state line between Mississippi and Louisiana.  The area includes the Apalachicola, Weeks Bay, and Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves as well as several National Wildlife Refuges and National Parks.  This region, with low level topography and extensive marsh and other critical habitats, is highly susceptible to the effects of sea level change. The combined effects of sea level rise and tropical storms can have dramatic impacts on coastal communities and ecosystems, including more flooding, faster erosion, land loss, and saltwater intrusion into freshwater resources.  Impacts can also reach offshore to valuable resources like oyster reefs and seagrass beds.

Considerable ongoing monitoring and research activities, particularly within three National Estuarine Research Reserve sites, provide the baseline information and parameters required for an integrative ecosystem approach to addressing sea level change. Building off of a NOS National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science-funded project, this cooperative will leverage the combined capabilities of three National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERRs), the National Ocean Service, the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, and the NOAA Gulf Regional Collaboration Team to assess the impacts of sea level rise and to develop capabilities and tools to facilitate conservation of coastal resources by local, state, and regional managers. Key products will include coupled models of hydrodynamics, sedimentation, salinity, and vegetation dynamics, as well as classified maps that delineate high and low risk areas. These tools and products are envisioned to allow for assessments of risk and planning, coastal construction guidelines, resource protection and sustainability needs, and set back guidance.

Focus Areas

Sea level change, storms and coastal inundation, improved conservation and restoration management tools.

Available Assets:

  • Suite of surface elevation tables in marsh habitats, in coordination with NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey and National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) at three NERRs. Additional ongoing monitoring and research activities on a suite of biological (e.g. oyster and marsh productivity) and physical parameters (e.g. sediment transport and circulation).
  • Land cover data sets for the entire Cooperative region derived from 30-m resolution Landsat Thematic
  • Mapper and Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper satellite.
  • In association with the Northwest Florida Water Management District and FEMA, complete LiDAR coverage of the Cooperative region and recent flood plain mapping.
  • Suite of modeling platforms, including ADCIRC-2DDI, POM 3D, SWAN, WASH123D, and MEMII that will be coupled allowing for delineation of new tidal boundaries, marsh erosion estimates, and habitat land cover changes, for example.
  • Ongoing NCCOS-funded study, led by the University of Central Florida, on the Ecological Effects of Sea Level Rise in the region that will provide integrative capabilities and lead the development of tools and products to assess and predict impacts of sea level rise.
  • Engaged local, state, and federal stakeholders, with an established management advisory committee, that includes resource managers and coastal planners.
  • Capabilities for the dissemination of the information, products, and capabilities through partnerships that include the Coastal Training Program, Climate Community of Practice, NERRs and Sea Grant engagement efforts, the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, and efforts of the NOAA Gulf Regional Team.

Partners (Currently Involved):

NOAA

Other Agencies and Organizations

University