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Salt Marsh Migration in Prince Edward Island

By

Tim Webster, PhD Alicia Daniel, Nathan Parker
Applied Geomatics Research Group
Centre of Geographic Sciences
NSCC, Middleton Tel. 902 825 5475
email: timothy [dot] webster [at] nscc [dot] ca

Submitted to
Alan Hanson, Ph.D.
Head, Landscape Conservation
Canadian Wildlife Service, Atlantic Region
Environmental Stewardship Branch
Environment Canada
17 Waterfowl Lane
Sackville, NB E4L 1G6

March, 2013

Salt marshes are a very important link between land and sea and due to sea-level rise as well as anthropogenic effects they are in danger. In order to determine the best management and possible land acquisition practices to ensure suitable salt marsh habitat in the future, GIS analysis has been applied to six representative coastal areas in Prince Edward Island. Prince Edward Island was selected as the study site because orthophotos of 1968 and 2010 as well as a 1.5 m DEM created from lidar were available for the whole island. The 1.5 m DEM was modified to include hydrology that connected the ocean to low lying areas inland where culverts and bridges occurred but were not visible in the original DEM. The 1968 and 2010 orthophotos were interpreted to map the salt marshes and calculate their respected areas. The elevation of mean sea-level (MSL) and the highest high water, large tide (HHWLT) were defined by tidal predictions for each site. The prediction of salt marsh from the DEM for this range of elevation (MSL-HHWLT) was compared to that interpreted from the 2010 orthophotos. A relative sea-level rise (SLR) of 1 m / century was used to linearly project the elevation boundaries into the future for 2050, 2100, and 2200. The potential salt marsh area for these periods was determined by using the elevation ranges (MSL-HHWLT) and the DEM. The area of salt marsh was then calculated and compared between years. This type of analysis can be used as a management and planning tool to determine what land areas are most suitable for acquisition in order to preserve salt marsh habitat today and into the future.

 

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AGRG PEI Salt Marsh Migration project 2013_linespacing1_5.pdf13.24 MB
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