This summer Dr. James Morris, director at the Baruch Institute at the University of South Carolina, received the 2012 Merit Award of the Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS) for his long term research at the North Inlet Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve on coastal wetlands response to sea level rise.


The award recognized his outstanding piece of original research, “Response of coastal wetlands to rising sea level” (Morris et al., 2002)*. This paper demonstrated for the first time a positive feedback between sea level rise, plant growth in salt marshes and sedimentation rate that explains how marshes respond to sea level rise. This paper also provided the foundation for the Marsh Equilibrium Model (MEM) that has been widely adopted by the coastal wetland research community.


In making the award, the SWS noted “You clearly deserve this prestigious acknowledgement of your distinguished contributions to the field of wetland science. Your paper on ecosystem feedbacks in response to sea level rise is an outstanding piece of original research that has had tremendous impact on wetland management and scientific research.”

*Morris et al., 2002, Response of coastal wetlands to rising sea level, Ecology 83:2869-2877.