CSDMS 2020: Linking Ecosphere and Geosphere

Atolls and Ecogeomorphology: Investigating the feedbacks between physical processes, anthropogenic, ecological, and changing climate

Alejandra Ortiz

Colby College, United States

Within our lifetime, climate change has the potential to drastically alter coastal resiliency. Atoll island nations are particularly vulnerable to climate change: from increasing ocean temperatures (causing coral die-off), to ocean acidification (decreasing coral resiliency), to increasing SLR. We must understand what will happen to the atoll islands since the land is where people live. However, we lack a comprehensive understanding about the primary processes driving atoll island evolution under rising sea levels and varying wave climate. This uncertainty in predictions hinders local communities’ preparation for the future; we must understand how atoll islands respond and evolve with changing environmental forcings on a global scale. However, to predict the response of these islands to changing climate, we must understand the feedbacks between physical and ecological processes at different temporal and spatial scales. In addition, we must account for the actions and processes taken by humans driving landscape change on these islands. My lab has focused on investigating the feedbacks inherent in these landscapes using numerical modeling and remote sensing.

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Of interest for:
  • Coastal Working Group
  • Ecosystem Dynamics Focus Research Group