What Can SLAMM Do?

SLAMM data and maps are one of many resources available to investigate how Long Island Sound’s coastline may respond to sea-level rise (SLR). SLAMM data and maps allow researchers, natural resource managers, and municipal land use decision-makers to find answers to important questions:

  • What is the fate of Long Island Sound’s estuarine marshes under short-term (2050) and long-term (2100) scenarios?
  • What is the fate of Long Island Sound’s estuarine marshes under conservative and extreme SLR scenarios?
  • Which marsh systems are more (or less) sustainable under SLR?
  • Which marsh systems should be targeted for conservation through restoration?
  • Which marsh systems are best sustained by conserving adjacent upland to accommodate marsh migration?

Further analysis of SLAMM data and additional related research can help begin to answer other questions, beyond the salt-marsh response to SLR:

  • How will ecological services provided by a marsh change as the extent and type of marsh changes?
  • Can properties and infrastructure adjacent to marshes be managed to allow for marsh migration?
  • How should land within marsh migration areas be managed to accommodate the growth of new marshland?

SLAMM Limitations

Although SLAMM offers insight into possible marsh changes over time and throughout various SLR scenarios, SLAMM and the data used in the model has limitations such as:

  • SLAMM is not a hydrodynamic model and therefore does not include feedback mechanisms between hydrodynamics and marsh ecology (e.g., barrier island breaches, peat collapse).
  • Anthropogenic changes (e.g., beach nourishment, shoreline armoring, construction of levees, tide gates) to marsh and coastal systems are not considered.
  • Large storm effects (e.g., marsh mortality, the effect on drylands, barrier islands) are undercounted in SLAMM. SLAMM also does not account for other factors related to climate change, such as a change in the frequency of large storms.
  • SLAMM data is incomplete and includes some model input errors such as rates of marsh accretion rates and existing marsh surface elevation.
  • Data representing existing infrastructure (roads, bridges, culverts, etc.) do not completely describe the effects of these structures on the connectivity between existing and potential areas subject to tidal flow, which will affect model results.

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