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Research and Resources | Salt Marsh Monitoring | Climate Impacts

Rising Seas - Salt Marsh Survey 2013-2015

Salem Sound Coastwatch partnered with Maritime Gloucester and Friends of Good Harbor on the Bruce J. Anderson funded project: RISING SEA.


With the goal to expand marsh monitoring methods to include Sea level Rise (SLR) and its impact on marsh functions, SSCW led Maritime Gloucester staff and students along with several adults from Friends of Good Harbor on salt marsh monitoring that started the collection of long-term data to identify impacts of SLR.


New protocols used in 2014 included:

  • Measuring salt pannes (pools) - if SLR is occurring, they would be expected to increase in size.
  • Measuring size and assessed plants on a raised "island" If SLR occurs, this area's upper marsh (drier border) vegetation would change to high marsh plants such as Spartina patens, salt marsh hay.
  • Placing permanent markers along both sides of Saratoga Creek. The width of the creek and bank height were measured every 100 feet from the culvert at Thatcher Road until the creek bend or 700 feet. Higher water would cause bank erosion and changes to the width of the creek.

SSCW has been conducting marsh vegetation surveys along six transects since 2001 at the Good Harbor Marsh using the W.H.A.T. Toolbox. This data were used to determine changes to vegetation that may be attributed to SLR.


2015 Findings:

  • Pannes had become larger
  • No change in the raised mound
  • Creek experienced widening in some areas

Since we have a longer time sequence for vegetation at the marsh, it was possible to see vegetation changes that could be attributed to higher inundation of sea water onto the marsh, i.e. SLR.

The marsh's existing condition has been documented so that we can follow changes, however small, attributable to increased sea levels. SSCW will continue watching and monitoring the marsh with its partners, Maritime Gloucester and Friends of Good Harbor. Contact us if you are interested in volunteering.




We want to express our appreciation to the Bruce J Anderson Foundation for funding the RISING SEA Project and giving Salem Sound Coastwatch, Maritime Gloucester and Friends of Good Harbor the opportunity to bring this level of engagement and scientific research on sea level rise and its impacts to our valuable marshes to the Cape Ann community.