Documenting Coastal Forest Retreat Along Barnegat Bay and Delaware Bay, New Jersey from 1970 to 2017
One of the many consequences of sea level rise is evident along the East coast of the United States in “ghost forests,” which are standing dead trees seen along the boundary between salt marsh and coastal forest. Ghost forests are particularly apparent on the East coast due to accelerated rates of sea level rise (Sallenger et al. 2012). Sea level rise increases salinity in the substrate and contributes to rising water levels in coastal forests, leading to forest dieback. It is important to understand the pace at which these forests are migrating inland in order to measure carbon flux to the atmosphere that might occur as forest transitions to marsh, as well as to determine what kinds of wildlife may be impacted by a loss of habitat (Smart et al. 2020). My study furthers the knowledge of this phenomenon by analyzing coastal forest loss from 1970 to 2017 at three different intervals at Glades Wildlife Refuge on the Delaware Bay and Cattus Island County Park on the western shore of Barnegat Bay in New Jersey. Aerial photography and the Digital Shoreline Analysis System (DSAS) were used to study forest migration. Overall, my study provides an estimation of the magnitude of coastal forest migration in New Jersey and highlights some of the disadvantages of using aerial photography to study coastal forest loss.