Anji Cooper, University of Delaware


Class Year:



Cindy Palinkas, Ph.D.

Project Title:

Spatial and Temporal Variability of Sedimentation in Living Shorelines of the Maryland Chesapeake Bay


Shoreline erosion is rapidly becoming a more prevalent issue. Factors contributing to this erosion include sea level rise, a product of the increasing rate of climate change. This has many negative impacts, both economic and environmental, as it causes property loss and degradation of nearshore water quality. Living shorelines are becoming a popular option to combat this erosion, as they are ecosystem friendly and provide a better alternative to traditional hard erosion structures. However, research into the variability of sediment and vegetation dynamics over space and time has lagged behind installation. There is a lack of knowledge about these shorelines, especially pertaining to their smaller scale spatial variability and temporal variability. This study aims to determine if the usual approach of taking 3 sediment cores along 3 transects perpendicular to the shoreline is sufficient to capture the small scale spatial variability, and to better identify temporal trends in sediment and vegetation characteristics of living shorelines. To test smaller scale variability, 2 new transects were established between the usual 3 transects at sites sampled over the last few years; in addition, 2 new sediment cores were taken between the standard 3 cores. A total of 25 cores were collected and then analyzed for grain size and organic matter content, which was then compared to 3 years of previously collected data to address temporal variability. Previously collected accretion rates were compared to determine the shoreline’s relative success in trapping enough sediment to keep pace with sea-level rise. Overall it was determined that the standard collection method is sufficient to address the small scale spatial variability, and that a longer time series (>3 years) is needed to understand temporal trends. More research on living shorelines and their temporal trends is crucial for understanding their potential sustainability over time.


Horn Point Laboratory

REU Update

Masters student studying living shorelines at UMCES HPL


Cooper, A.* and C. Palinkas. 2022. Spatial and Temporal Variability of Sedimentation in Living Shorelines of the Maryland Chesapeake Bay. Atlantic Estuarine Research Society Fall Meeting, Chestertown, MD.

The REU students are indicated with an asterisk (*).

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