Changing Natural and Built Coastal Environments

This course will examine natural and anthropogenic processes affecting the coastal zone and nearshore environment. Ecological principles and their application to design and planning will be emphasized. Topics will include coastal wetland development, sediment movement in estuaries and long-shore, natural disturbance regimes including coastal storms, flooding, and erosion. Applications of ecological principles for landscape design, planning, restoration, recreation, management and conservation at regional scales will include stormwater management, hardened coastlines, sediment and toxics management, and marsh restoration.

As a later-sequence ecology course focused on coastal processes and built environment issues, this seminar complements existing GSD emphasis on introductory ecology, terrestrial systems and freshwater wetlands. The course focus on ecologically-sound management of the coastal zone is highly relevant to current/future concerns with sea level rise, stormwater management, energy infrastructure, and waterfront development. Coastal zone management is most fruitfully approached on a regional scale, an approach transferable to other, current design challenges.

Specific expertise brought to the course by Parsons includes long-term studies along US northeast coasts of estuarine ecosystems and biodiversity, toxics and sediment management in urban ports (including metropolitan areas of New York City, Boston, Philadelphia/Wilmington, Baltimore), ecologically-based engineered solutions to habitat loss including islands, coastal wetlands, barrier beaches, and peninsulas. Specific expertise brought to the course by Apfelbaum includes ecologically-sound applications to achieve restoration objectives, stormwater management, and risk assessment. The class will meet weekly at GSD; in addition, there will be two full-day field trips. Evaluation will be based on seminar attendance/participation, a field report, and research paper and presentation.