Principal Investigator: 
Danielle Kreeger (dkreeger@delawareestuary.org)
Institution: 
Partnership for the Delaware Estuary

Sea level rise and increasing storminess present numerous challenges for preserving critical natural habitats and protecting people along the PA coastline. Chief among these is the ongoing loss and degradation of tidal wetlands and other buffering habitats to rising seas and continued development. We estimated that half of Pennsylvania’s coastal wetlands have disappeared in the last 30-40 years, and the system is losing an acre per day currently. To adapt to changing conditions and promote coastal resilience, it is vital that these declines in natural infrastructure be reversed. Often, erosion of natural habitats exacerbates flooding risk, resulting in replacement of natural habitats with "hard" tactics such as seawalls, bulkheads, dikes, and tidal control systems, as well as filling lands to elevate them. However, hard structures like these typically degrade wetlands and stream bank areas and the ecological goods and services they provide. "Soft" tactics such as living shorelines (LS) are an alternative that promotes natural habitats and ecological functions while providing similar or better protection without degrading ecosystem goods and services. Natural habitats also have the potential to elevate themselves to keep pace with rising seas, whereas built infrastructure does not.  The Delaware Estuary Living Shoreline Initiative (DELSI) is one way that the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE) is seeking to protect Pennsylvania’s natural shoreline habitats and coastal communities from the threats associated with rising sea levels and climate change. Since 2007, DELSI has assessed living shoreline opportunities, developed new tactics, and designed and implemented numerous projects in DE and NJ. The goal of this study is to expand DELSI into the coastal area of southeast Pennsylvania where anecdotal information suggests that numerous opportunities exist to strengthen and expand natural shoreline infrastructure to enhance ecology, boost flood protection, and protect PA’s Delaware River coastal communities.

Research Year: 
2016
Funding Amount: 
$44,226
Current or Past research?: 
Current Research

Main Office: Tom Ridge Environmental Center 301 Peninsula Dr., Suite 3 Erie, PA 16505 814-217-9011