Spatial Distribution of Elevation Change Monitoring in Coastal Wetlands Across Protected Lands of the Lower 48 United States

Fact Sheet 2023-3039
By:  and 



Tidally influenced coastal wetlands, both saline and fresh, appear where terrestrial and marine environments meet and are considered important ecosystems for identifying the impacts of climate change. Coastal wetlands provide valuable benefits to society and the environment in the form of flood protection, water-quality improvements, and shoreline erosion reduction, making them one of the most important ecosystems in the world. Historically, these ecosystems have vertically adjusted to match rising sea levels through biologic and physical processes, but they are increasingly vulnerable to submergence as sea-level rise accelerates. Measuring vertical change on lands protected from human influence allows scientists to understand how vulnerable coastal wetlands are to submergence. But to fully understand this vulnerability, scientists must identify where vertical change in coastal wetlands is being measured across the lower 48 United States, a task that has not yet been undertaken. In this Fact Sheet, we document the spatial distribution of vertical change measurements in coastal wetlands to inform where gaps may still be in the Surface Elevation Table–Marker Horizon (SET-MH) coverage within protected lands across the lower 48 United States.

Suggested Citation

Neville, J.A., and Gutenspergen, G.R., 2023, Spatial Distribution of Elevation Change Monitoring in Coastal Wetlands Across Protected Lands of the Lower 48 United States: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2023–3029, 4 p.,

ISSN: 2327-6932 (online)

ISSN: 2327-6916 (print)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • How Is Elevation Change in Coastal Wetlands Measured?
  • What Are Protected Lands?
  • Benefits of SET-MH Stations Being on Protected Lands
  • Acknowledgements
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Spatial distribution of elevation change monitoring in coastal wetlands across protected lands of the lower 48 United States
Series title Fact Sheet
Series number 2023-3039
DOI 10.3133/fs20233039
Year Published 2023
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Eastern Ecological Science Center
Description 4 p.
Country United States
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details