Graduate Education Advancement Board Impact Awards recognize student research that helps North Carolina
Global Change Impacts in the Lower Roanoke River
— Anna Jalowska, Marine Sciences
The Roanoke River is the largest river entering Albemarle-Pamlico Sound. The floodplains and deltaic environments of the Lower Roanoke are valuable ecosystems that provide N.C. coastal communities with recreation, fisheries and storm protection, and play a crucial role in carbon and nutrient cycling. These vulnerable ecosystems are at the nexus between global changes taking place in the watershed and in the coastal ocean.
Doctoral student Anna Jalowska’s research investigates sediment distribution and storage in the Roanoke River channel, floodplains and delta, under changes associated with human impacts (like land clearing and river damming), and climate change factors such as accelerated sea-level rise and possible increased intensity of tropical and extratropical storms.
Jalowska has collected and analyzed samples and cores from different parts of the Roanoke River watershed and combined the results with studies of historical and modern maps and images. Her findings indicate that the role of floodplains and delta in processing materials from the watershed has changed dramatically from its natural state dominated by burial to a human-modified state dominated by erosion.
Jalowska’s research findings will add vital knowledge to the conservation and restoration efforts in the Lower Roanoke watershed.
“Anna’s research is at the frontier of global change science and what it will tell us about North Carolina and the future of its coastal areas,” said adviser Brent McKee, Ph.D.