Sunday, November 20, 2011

Study targets sea-level rise; Florida reserve key to research

Dinah Voyles Pulver in the Daytona Beach News Journal (Florida): A pair of researchers concerned about how future increases in sea level could spell trouble for fragile coastal areas of Flagler and St. Johns counties will use a new federal grant to start a regional planning process.

The narrow coastline and marshes that fringe the Matanzas River south of Matanzas Inlet and make up the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve are home to many varieties of animals and plants. Starting a planning process to ensure the estuary and surrounding areas are prepared and protected is the focus of the new research grant recently awarded to the research reserve.

...The grant will help the reserve further its research on how future changes in climate, particularly potential sea level increases, might impact the southern section of the reserve and people who live in the region.

...The project's lead researcher, Kathyrn Frank with the University of Florida, said they will develop a process of planning for future increases in sea level by identifying areas that might be vulnerable and looking at opportunities to protect ecological connections for plants and animals. It will also help identify the potential human impacts from sea level rise. "We're gathering information and doing some analysis about what the potential impacts could be in the Matanzas basin," said Frank, an assistant professor with the College of Design, Construction and Planning.

..."A lot of the impacts of sea level rise are very similar to what happens through coastal hazards, so the coastal hazards community has been planning for these kinds of things the longest, and there's action at the state and national level," Frank said. With the research project, Frank and Shirley hope to focus on how officials can collect essential information for making decisions....

The endangered Florida Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) taken in the Guana Tolomato Matanzas Reserve, Florida. Shot by Craig ONeal, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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