Ecogeomorphic Model of Willapa Bay Intertidal Dynamics

Sea level rise, both gradual from climate change and abrupt related to earthquakes and subsidence, significantly impacts coastal systems. In shallow systems such as Willapa Bay, WA, these changes in apparent sea level can cause substantial and cascading effects. Our study explores how the sedimentary ecosystems of Willapa Bay, WA are likely to change in response to rising sea levels. We are measuring waves, currents, sediments, and community composition across and range of sites in Willapa Bay to understand the causes of these changes and their relationship to future sea level rise. The resulting numerical model will be tested with a range of sea level rise scenarios to make predictions as to the ecogeomorphic evolution* of Willapa Bay. Results of this open-access model will be published in the scientific literature, and also presented to stakeholders as simple schematics to aid in decision-making for the future of aquaculture in Willapa Bay.

Current areas of focused study : 

Willapa Bay, Washington State

Hub Researchers

  • Andrea Ogston, Investigator University of Washington
  • Terrie Klinger, Investigator University of Washington
  • Kendall Valentine, Investigator University of Washington
  • Clara Stanbury, Graduate Student University of Washington.


  • Willapa Greys Harbor Estuarine Collaborative
  • Individual oyster growers (including Ken Wiegardt and John Heckes)
  • Jennifer Ruesink, University of Washington

Andrea Ogston

Terrie Klinger


You have questions. wE have answers.

After all, asking questions is the first step in the scientific method.

How will this research benefit Cascadia coastal communities?

Based on conversations with community members, we learned that rapid changes in sedimentation, grain size, and ecological communities have been observed within the bay, with consequences for local aquaculture operations. We hope our model will aid the future of aquaculture in Willipa Bay.

*What is ‘Ecogeomorphic Evolution’?

Ecogeomorphic Evolution is the study of how living organisms, such as plants and animals, interact with and influence the physical processes shaping landscapes, like erosion, sediment transport, and landform development.