A brand new research of Virginia’s barrier islands off the coast of the Japanese Shore supplies a elementary understanding of how barrier islands will change within the close to future amid a warming local weather, sea-stage rise and storm occasions resembling hurricanes and nor’easters.
The research by researchers with the Coastal Plant Ecology Lab at Virginia Commonwealth College affords vital insights into the ecological and geomorphic processes occurring on Virginia’s chain of 23 uninhabited islands stretching from Assateague on the Maryland border to Fisherman Island close to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, in addition to different barrier islands alongside the East Coast that assist shield the mainland from storms that — due to local weather change — are rising in frequency and depth.
Barrier islands have been proven to be naturally resilient in response to relative sea-stage rise by migrating landward by way of an “overwash” course of that deposits sediment onto the islands’ backbarrier marsh, thereby sustaining elevation above sea stage.
This examine, which explored the position of inside island vegetation on this course of, discovered that sediment motion from upland to marsh is being stymied by an growth of woody vegetation led to by a warming winter local weather. In different phrases, the influence of sea-degree rise on barrier islands in Virginia and elsewhere alongside the Atlantic Coast is being accelerated by local weather change.
The examine reveals how the interaction between elevation and inside island vegetative cowl influences landward migration of the boundary between upland and marsh — a beforehand underappreciated indicator that an island is migrating — and, thus, the significance of together with ecological processes within the island inside into coastal modeling of barrier island migration and sediment motion throughout the barrier panorama, Zinnert mentioned.