Marsh Groundwater

Under predicted climate change conditions, particularly the increasing of sea level, it is important to understand the potential impacts this change may have in the hydrology of marsh communities. Of great interest is to determine the impact of sea level rise in groundwater, including groundwater level and salinity intrusion. Monitoring for salinity intrusion is especially important at Jug Bay; Jug Bay is composed of tidal freshwater marshes (wetlands where salinity is almost zero) and small increases in the amount of salt found in groundwater may cause significant changes in some of the plants found in this particular environment.

In 2012, the Sanctuary in collaboration with CBNERR-MD started an effort to monitor groundwater at Jug Bay. To do this, three water wells were established at three different marsh areas: Western Branch, Railroad Bed, and Mataponi Creek (areas also used to monitor marsh plants) and equipped with automated loggers that record every 15 minutes information on groundwater level, temperature, and salinity. Data from these loggers is retrieved every four to six months and analyzed for any local trends.

Monitoring Objectives:
   1. Evaluate changes in groundwater over time particularly as a result of sea level rise and to determine how these changes may relate to changes in the marsh plant community.
   2. Determine natural groundwater changes in space and time in Jug Bay tidal freshwater marshes. 

Volunteers are critical to the research conducted here. Click to get involved.