Going, going, gone! Living shorelines send nitrogen packin’!

Coastal wetlands provide critical ecological services, but are rapidly disappearing from the planet. Salt marshes are a type of coastal wetland that provides habitat, food, and shelter, while preventing erosion, and protecting our water quality. Researchers are investigating how well reduce nutrient pollution, specifically nitrogen, from terrestrial and aquatic environments. A recent study discovered that living shorelines such as salt marshes are quite effective at removing nitrogen, especially in the first seven years after construction. These findings indicate that living shorelines are an effective solution to coastal pollution challenges.

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Salt marsh and mangroves are equally vulnerable to sea level rise

Mangroves have extended their range as a result of climate change and have established in areas that were previously salt marshes. Both mangrove stands and salt marshes act as buffers against coastal storms. Studies have suggested that mangroves and salt marshes have the ability to cope with global sea level rise by increasing local elevation through trapping soil and expanding their root structure. A recent study in the Mississippi River Delta reports that black mangroves and salt marsh plants have similar abilities to build sediment in coastal areas, but the rate of elevation increase is still lower than sea level rise. Therefore, both salt marsh and mangrove-dominated habitats of the Mississippi River Delta are at risk from sea level rise.

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