Rybczyk to discuss rising seas and ecosystem restoration March 13

Western Today staff

Western Washington University Professor of Environmental Sciences John Rybczyk will discuss the impact of rising sea levels on coastal habitats as part of the Huxley College of the Environment Speaker Series at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 13 in Communications Facility 125 on Western’s campus.

The presentation is free and open to the public.

Observed and predicted increases in the rate of eustatic sea-level rise (ESLR) caused by climate change have led to concerns regarding the long-term sustainability of coastal wetlands worldwide. A central question is whether wetland elevation can keep pace with rising sea levels.

In his talk titled “Ecosystem Restoration and Rising Seas: Lessons from the Red Queen,” Rybczyk will present examples on the local and global scale of how rising sea levels are already affecting coastal habitats, and suggest mechanisms for enhancing resilience to future sea-level rise.

Rybczyk is chair of the Department of Environmental Science at Western’s Huxley College of the Environment. Over the past 20 years, he has worked towards the development of integrated field and modeling programs designed to predict the effects of rising sea levels on coastal ecosystems. Versions of his models have been used by the USGS and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. This past year, the state of Louisiana used his Relative Elevation Model to help guide a $50 billion coastal-restoration effort.

The presentation will include a question-and-answer period. Anyone interested in the topic is encouraged to attend and participate. The Speaker Series, sponsored by Western’s Huxley College of the Environment, is intended to bring together environmentally-minded members of the WWU and Bellingham communities. Speakers address topics of contemporary environmental concern in the region and the world.

WWU’s Huxley College of the Environment is one of the oldest environmental colleges in the nation and a recognized leader in producing the next generation of environmental professionals and stewards. Huxley’s distinctive, interdisciplinary curriculum reflects a broad view of the physical, biological, social, and cultural world, and has earned international recognition for quality.

For more information, please contact Jen VanderWeyden at WWU’s Huxley College of the Environment at (360) 650-2554.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014 - 3:42pm