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Grant Administered by UNC Institute of Marine Sciences

NOAA has awarded the University of North Carolina Institute of Marine Sciences $769,960 to develop ecological forecasts of sea level rise in estuarine habitat.

Scientists at the University of North Carolina Institute of Marine Sciences will develop an internet accessible simulation model that will assist managers and planners in their preparation for predicted ecological changes to North Carolina’s estuarine habitats resulting from a rise in sea level.

“Developing predictive means to better understand rising sea level is critical to the resource management of our coasts,” said retired Navy vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “NOAA’s partnership with the University of North Carolina Institute of Marine Sciences will help create the tools needed to better understand how sea level rise affects our coastal resources.”

A rise in sea level would seriously affect coastal ecosystems, including wetlands that are essential to the survival of economically important fish and shellfish species. Researchers at the University of North Carolina Institute of Marine Sciences are creating a model that will forecast the effects of variable water levels and shoreline stabilization on these critical habitats. Through the development of habitat simulation models, scientists hope to predict the ecological outputs of sub-tidal and intertidal mudflats, submerged aquatic vegetation, oyster reef and marsh subject to the rising sea level. The ecological model will be spatialized using geographic information systems tools and will predict the effects of present rates of sea level rise, potential increases in storm surge intensity, the impact to bulkheads, and breakwaters on critically important habitat.

Each year, the NOAA Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research awards approximately $25 million in grants to institutions of higher education, state, local, and tribal governments, and other non-profit research institutions to assist NOAA in fulfilling its mission to study our coastal oceans. These NOAA-sponsored competitive research programs demonstrate NOAA's commitment to its historic responsibilities of science and service to the nation for the past 35 years.

NOAA’s National Ocean Service is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans. It balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners and nearly 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

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