Assessing Seagrass Vulnerability along Florida's Gulf Coast, using NOAA's Sea Level Rise Viewer Tool.

Sea level rise has multiple implications for people and wildlife, but it can also have great effects on plant life as well - including aquatic plants such as the seagrass that you'll find in shallow marine waters around Florida. Because of this potential threat, an assessment was done on the potential impacts of sea level rise on suitable seagrass habitat on the west coast of Florida, just north of Tampa Bay.

To assess the impact of sea level rise, the University of South Florida developed a spatial predictive model to analyze the loss of suitable seagrass habitat. Data from NOAA's Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer were then applied to help the partners analyze the potential gain of habitat due to inundation of the shoreline. Sea level rise scenarios and spatial data for flooding and elevation were used to determine the amount of potential seagrass habitat gain along the highly urbanized shoreline.

The application of the Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer data demonstrated the potential impacts on seagrass resources of a hardened shoreline (such as seawalls or riprap) and further shoreline armoring. The tool’s integratation with habitat suitability modeling makes this information essential for an integrated management plan that aids state and local land managers in maintaining the ecosystem and shoreline interests.

For more information, visit: Digital Coast, NOAA Coastal Services Center.

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