Nearshore Monitoring Strategy

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  • This page contains ideas about a nearshore monitoring strategy
  • The initial concepts seem to build from ideas presented in Gelfenbaum et al 2006
  • Ideas were developed in response to activities of the PSP Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program (PSEMP)'s Nearshore Work Group circa 2012


  • Philosophically, I think we need a portfolio of research, monitoring and education efforts. The portfolio for research/monitoring ideally includes both (1) process-based hypothesis testing research and (2) status and trends monitoring.
  • We need process-based research to understand the why's and the mechanisms causing change so we can better predict the future and we need just enough status and trends monitoring to identify variability and trends. The latter should be directed by our best understanding (or conceptual models) of the processes driving change.
  • So I propose a nested research and monitoring program that stratifies hypothesis-based research at specific sites/reaches to quantify variability in processes and ecosystem responses within a larger regional study framework that captures large-scale gradients in forcings, status and trends.
  • Such a strategy would need to adjust depending on process domains as suggested by Shipman 2008, as the dynamics set up by the interaction of drivers, and the appropriate metrics for status and trends might change from landform to landform. Pcereghino (talk)

Priority Actions[edit]

In many cases we can not do either 1 or 2 very well because we lack basic, fundamental information (mapping data) like the distribution of habitats, their elevations, and corresponding water levels (inundation) to map out areas/frequency of influence from presumed drivers.

Complete a seamless onshore-offshore digital elevation model of Puget Sound[edit]

    • The white strip (data gaps) between suitable topographic lidar and offshore bathymetry precludes effective assessment of habitats and modeling change; including, refine actual water levels (tidal inundation) relative to the DEMs generated in #1 above.
    • In Nisqually, Skokomish, Skagit deltas we often measure more than 0.5 m difference in actual water level relative to our best model tide prediction (corrected for atmospheric effect). The variability in tidal inundation throughout the complex Puget Sound coastal zone deserves better.
    • Between the interconnected Skagit and Stillaguamish systems, actual tidal range conditions are complex and poorly documented. Pcereghino (talk)


  • Wave heights increase exponentially with water level the influence of waves in the near future will have pronounced effects on substrate, shoreline position, vegetation, water quality, etc.
    • Even in our fetch-limited wave environment, winter storm waves can reach 5-7 feet or more and with increasing sea level will have prolonged influence. We also need to understand currents and the magnitude of net transport (in addition to the conceptual understanding of drift cell direction of net transport) in order to predict transport of water/contaminant/passive particles.
    • We hope to have a new project funded for the next 3 years to model and validate wave energy and shoreline response across northern Whidbey Basin and have a 2-year project funded in Port Susan Bay to examine waves and their attenuation by vegetation. User:Egrossman usgs

Sediment Transport[edit]

Fluvial delivery, bluff production, littoral transport and estuary/delta transport paths and retention are critically needed to inform whether coasts, marshes, beaches can maintain geomorphology, substrates and habitats that support a functioning ecosystem.

    • Kaminsky is pursuing long term monitoring of beach and bluff systems using boat-based LIDAR. Pcereghino (talk)

Salinity Intrusion/water quality[edit]

  • a better understanding of especially temperature and salinity patterns, and how those patterns respond to runoff, coastal upwelling and variations in atmospheric variability is needed. This actually requires better weather stations located in suitable areas to inform coastal forcing.
    • Obviously we are all hoping hydrodynamic models and monitoring (being promoted by PSP Marinewaters Modeling and Monitoring Workgroups) can help resolve these, but back to processes, we also need a lot of temporal and spatially variable validation data (e.g. field measurements).

We have just installed the first ever USGS Stream gage in a tidally influenced river at Stillaguamish and hope to demonstrate how important these information are to predicting saltwedge, estuary mixing and their influence on biota and sediment trapping. User:Egrossman usgs

  • Biotic responses to items #2-4 above. For example, as we are doing in Skagit, Nisqually and Skokomish, it will be helpful to understand how eelgrass, shellfish, benthic invertebrates, plants, shorebirds and other biota of concern are structured and respond to change in water levels, waves, sediment transport and water quality so that focused studies that test the extent of their impact on wildlife will help evaluate vulnerable versus more resilient habitats. So, research and monitoring biotic patterns with respect to drivers.