How do slow, progressive environmental changes (like sea level rise) interact with brief disturbances like storms to shape our seaside landscape? We are trying to find out. Since the mid 1980s, scientists and students from over half a dozen universities have worked together through the VCR Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program to better understand coastal forests, salt marshes, oyster reefs, seagrass meadows, and barrier islands. Our goal is to not only UNDERSTAND how coastal systems work but also to PREDICT how they may function or change in the future due to the effects of changes in climate, sea level and land use. We also connect any of those changes to the ecological services the coastal barrier systems provide to you, such as flood protection or fisheries habitat. Beyond VA's coast, we are connected to a national network of LTER sites, studying and comparing environments all over the country and world.