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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Announcing New Projects Funded by the NE CASC

Thursday, July 12, 2018

NE CASC UMass PIs, through the Department of Interior’s cooperative agreement to UMass Amherst, have awarded three mini-grants to UMass researchers to advance applied climate research and outreach for the NE CASC.  After six years of funded research, UMass Amherst PIs sought to fill gaps in our program and build on existing work.   The projects selected demonstrated a clearly identified stakeholder need, or could further disseminate or translate existing NE CASC-funded data and products to end-users. 

Project awards are described below:


Climate Change Impacts on Erosion, Mass Wasting, and the Supply of Sediment to Tidal Wetlands in the Northeast 

John Woodruff, Brian Yellen, and Timothy Cook, Geosciences

NE CASC Graduate Fellow Caroline Ladlow

This project examines the vulnerability of tidal marshes in the northeastern US to ongoing sea level rise and the impacts of climate and land use change on the supply of sediment from upstream tributaries to these wetland systems.  Climate change is likely to impact erosion rates, the magnitude and frequency of extreme rainfall/mass wasting events (massive sedimentary erosion- often resulting in debris flows or mudflows), and the accumulation of sediment in coastal areas.   This work contributes to an ongoing investigation of climatic control of long-term changes in upland erosion and the frequency of flood induced mass-wasting in the northeastern US.  Stakeholders currently advising this project include regulators, policy makers, engineers and practitioners, and academics at other institutions.  Research outcomes will be used to guide management decisions related to the maintenance or removal of dams in tributary watersheds.  These funds build off of a pre-existing NOAA National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative supported project to evaluate the impact of dam impounded sediments on wetland sustainability in the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve (HRNERR). The additional NECSC funds allows for graduate involvement in this project and provide support for linking the HRNERR project with a separate study by co-PI Tim Cook who, as a 2018-2019 Charles Bullard Fellowship at Harvard Forest, is evaluating climatic and land use impacts on sediment yields for the Northeast Region.


Prioritizing Range-shifting Invasive Plants for Monitoring and Management 

Bethany Bradley, Environmental Conservation

NE CASC Graduate Fellows Eve Beaury and Brittany Laginhas

The Northeast Regional Invasive Species and Climate Change (RISCC) Management network was initiated in 2016 to address the information needs of invasive species managers in light of climate change. Through discussions with invasive species managers during two working group meetings and one two-day symposium in 2017, it is clear that managers want to develop climate-smart monitoring and management strategies, but lack critical information.  Gaps in information include response of range-shifting invasive plants to changing climate parameters.  This project will use an environmental impacts assessment to prioritize the threat of range-shifting invasive plants, which will be used to inform proactive management strategies. Information on this focal study can be found under the RISCC project page. 


Bringing Together Cooperative Extension and NE CASC for Climate Adaptation 

Melissa Ocana and Scott Jackson, UMass Extension (and Environmental Conservation)

As more NE CASC projects come to completion, the opportunity to share research-based outputs to an expanded audience of end users has increased. The translation and application of climate science data and products are paramount to effective on-the-ground adaptation.  Extension staff at land-grant universities have a translational role in providing guidance to municipalities, private landowners, farmers, and other practitioners making natural resource management decisions. They work closely with academics, nonprofits, and state agencies to deliver research-based information and approaches. This project will identify extension partners leading on climate adaptation in our region, provide insight on where and how some of these partners and their stakeholders are using NE CASC products, and deliver any new information. It will also propose next steps to strengthen extension connections within the NE CASC region through a community of practice or network model and best practices for science delivery.


This project will begin in the Spring, 2019 semester:

Probabilistic projections of local sea level rise and vulnerability along the Northeast coastline 

Rob DeConto, Geosciences

NE CASC Graduate Fellow Ruthie Halberstadt 

Using a probabilistic model of future sea level distribution, combined with analysis of local trends and extreme sea level events from tide gauge records, this project will create regionally-appropriate projections to update local sea level rise projections along the Northeast US coastline.  This investigation will build on previous work by improving the scale and continuity of the ice-sheet analysis, and spatially extending the framework to assess the vulnerability of the entire Northeast coastline. A similar approach has already been successfully implemented for the state of Massachusetts.  The spatial impact of these regional sea level projections will be available via web-accessible maps of coastal inundation and 100-year flood expansion and will explore the intersection of future flood risk with socioeconomically vulnerable residents and exposed ecosystems. These maps will include public facilities and environmentally regulated and hazardous sites where projected inundation will further impact vulnerable coastal communities.  This project will begin in the Spring, 2019 semester.


Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center Projects >>