“I just finished my first year as a Graduate Student at Drexel University and this is my second year with the Fellowship Program. I love my research! I am working on a degree in environmental geology and this project allows me to work with two of my favorite things: trees and coastal geology. When I am not working in the lab or the estuary, I enjoy cooking and gardening. My BS in Environmental Science with a focus in Geology is from Juniata College.
“With my advisor, Dr. Kenneth Lacovara, I am working on determining the local-relative rate of sea level change for the Delaware Estuary coastline between the baymouth and the C&D Canal. Because low-gradient estuarine shorelines are particularly sensitive to small changes in sea level, this region will experience substantial coastal inundation. Since historic tide gauge records are not available for this site, we will use dendrochronology methods and salt marsh deposits to establish two independent proxies for the rate of sea level rise.”
As global temperatures rise, coastal communities and wetlands are at risk of destruction. Past research has shown a mean global rate of sea level rise of 1.8mm/yr for the 20th century (Church & White, 2006). However, effects of sea level rise will not evenly manifest along coastlines. Therefore, it is important to assess changes on a site-by-site basis. Understanding the historic response of a coastline to sea level rise will help policymakers and natural resource managers decide what actions should be taken to anticipate the effects of climate change on the estuary’s fragile wetland biomes and coastal developments.