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SE CASC Science Seminar

May 23, 2023 | 11:00 am - 12:00 pm EDT

Please join the Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center and Lise Montefiore, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at NC State, for “Insights From a National Scale and Holistic Approach to Map Estuarine Vulnerability to Projected Change in Water Quality.”
Considered the “nurseries of the sea,” estuaries are unique ecosystems that provide valuable assets to national and local economies. However, their integrity and the socio-economic services they provide are differentially threatened by adverse effects of anthropogenically-driven local and global change (e.g., land-use change, climate change, sea level rise). Understanding the factors that make these systems vulnerable is essential for resource managers to be able to make sound decisions and allocate resources efficiently to reduce the vulnerability of estuarine and coastal systems and communities.
Vulnerability assessment is an integrated approach that can be used as an informal spatial planning instrument to identify, quantify, and prioritize vulnerabilities within a system and between systems. Several vulnerability assessments have been developed nationwide to identify vulnerable coastal and estuarine systems and regions to flooding from sea level rise, ocean acidification and warming, and projected water quality change. However, few have integrated land-based drivers. Besides climate change, land use and land cover (LULC) are also expected to influence the runoff and nutrient characteristics of coastal watersheds and downstream estuaries. The present study developed a holistic approach to quantify estuarine vulnerability to water quality change under future climate and LULC projections, specifically with regard to nutrient loads. The approach was applied to estimate the vulnerability of 112 US estuarine systems to TN and TP loads. The results and implications of the research will be discussed in the seminar.