Impact of Relative Sea-Level Rise, Erosion, and Development on Natural Buffers: Galveston Island, Texas
DateJan. 24, 2
MetadataShow full item record
Fringing and interior salt- and fresh-water wetlands, interior ridges and swales, and the Gulf beach and foredune system are habitats important to maintaining the ecological health of Texas barrier islands. These geomorphic and sedimentary features also act as buffers to the effects of hazardous geological processes such as flooding and storm washover. Rising sea level and ongoing shoreline retreat have caused and will continue to cause these features to migrate and change character. A principal challenge in barrier-island environmental management, therefore, is to anticipate these changes and to develop policy that will not only sustain or improve upon the current status of natural buffers, but will also allow them to maintain their effectiveness as sea-level rise and erosion continue in the future. An inundation model, based on detailed topography and habitat mapping, was developed and combined with shoreline-change information to project how the distribution of natural buffers, including wetlands, beaches, and dunes, will change. Resulting maps can be used (1) to guide development away from areas prone to becoming future natural buffers and (2) to plan restoration and mitigation projects.