Ecosystem Change Investigation 4-1:

Mapping Future Wetlands


Find out how a coastal area might be affected if ocean levels rise.

What You Need

• several pieces of clear acetate

• fine tip pens for writing on acetate

• topographic map and street map of a low-lying coastal area

Getting Started

1. Choose a coastal area of the country that interests you, preferably one that includes urban as well as natural areas.

2. Locate a topographic map that shows contour lines for sea level and 5 foot increments of elevation. Locate a street map that shows urban landmarks.

3. Lay a clear sheet of plastic or acetate over the topographic map and trace the coastline with an indelible pen. Trace any reefs or tide pools shown on the map.

4. Using another color, trace and label the five-foot contour line.

5. Refer to the street map to determine the urban developments located in the zone at risk, and label major landmarks.

6. Write a one-page report on the potential effects of a rise in sea level on urban and natural areas. Include your recommendations for how the community might respond to the threat of flooding.

Questions to Research

Have there been recent floods or storms that have damaged the area?

What was the natural ecosystem like before the urban development?