Ellen Plane's picture

Ellen Plane, MLA/MCP

Environmental Scientist
Design and Communications
Resilient Landscapes Program
Carbon, Ecosystems & Climate
Shoreline Resilience

Ellen Plane is an environmental scientist in the Resilient Landscapes Program, focusing on sea-level rise adaptation and tidal habitat restoration. Her work supports landscape planning efforts aiming to enhance shoreline resilience using nature-based solutions. Ellen specializes in groundwater rise and has been a leader in expanding knowledge about this emerging climate hazard in the San Francisco Bay Area. At SFEI, she has collaborated with wastewater dischargers to develop multi-benefit nutrient removal and shoreline adaptation strategies. Ellen has also led the development of the Baylands Resilience Framework, a suite of quantitative metrics to support adaptation and restoration planning across the region. She holds a BA in Biology from Dartmouth College, as well as Master of City Planning and Master of Landscape Architecture in Environmental Planning degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. Ellen brings expertise in coastal processes, geospatial analysis, cartography, and graphic design to her work.

Related Projects, News, and Events

New Life for Eroding Shorelines (Project)

The New Life for Eroding Shorelines project explores living shoreline approaches for sea level rise adaptation that can reduce erosion at the marsh edge and improve habitat quality for marsh species. Solutions explored include reestablishing marsh-fringing barrier beaches to attenuate waves at the marsh edge and reintroducing California Sea Blite (Suaeda californica), a rare and endangered plant with the ability to climb driftwood and other shoreline features, providing much-needed high-tide refuge for marsh wildlife.

Baylands Resilience Framework (Project)

SFEI helps planners, regulatory agencies, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders make informed decisions about where and how to implement nature-based solutions for sea-level rise adaptation. The Adaptation Atlas identified places suitable for various types of nature-based solutions, including tidal marshes, mudflats, eelgrass, beaches, and oyster reefs.

Regional Analysis of Potential Beneficial Use Locations: San Francisco Bay (Project)

SFEI and partners are engaged in a long-term effort to define and quantify baylands resilience for San Francisco Bay through the Baylands Resilience Framework.  In developing this framework, we ask: How can baylands resilience be measured? How can it be increased? 

Sunset Natural Resilience Project (Project)

The Sunset Natural Resilience Project (SNRP) consists of six individual but related projects to increase the ability of human and natural communities to adapt to and prepare for the impacts of climate change. The projects will further the biodiversity goals of the City of San Francisco while making a dense urban environment a more livable and enjoyable space. San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI), will support the development of each individual project in coordination with project partners.

Where creeks meet baylands: opportunities to re-establish freshwater and sediment delivery to the baylands of San Francisco Bay (Project)

As baylands restoration and climate change alter the ecosystems of the Bay, novel restoration approaches are needed to meet growing challenges. Paramount among these challenges for the baylands is a projected lack of inorganic sediment to help wetland elevations keep pace with sea-level rise over the coming decades. One restoration approach that may address this challenge is to diversify the way that creeks are connected to baylands, returning those connections to the adaptive, resilient nodes of habitat complexity that they were historically.

Preparing for the Storm (Project)

Catalyzed by the extensive damages caused by the Winter 2016-2017 storms and the opportunity to align flood response with major habitat improvement, Preparing for the Storm is an innovative public-private partnership to improve watershed health and resilience in the Alameda Creek watershed.

Nature Based Solutions for Nutrient Removal (Project)

High nutrient concentrations can cause increased phytoplankton biomass, low dissolved oxygen, and increased harmful algal blooms and toxins, with detrimental effects on species and ecosystems. San Francisco Bay receives high nutrient loads mainly from discharged wastewater, but high turbidity, strong tidal mixing, and abundant filter-feeding clams have kept algal blooms in check. Following the historic algal bloom of 2022, regulators and managers recognize the Bay’s resilience to high nutrient loading is waning and nitrogen concentrations must be managed more proactively. 

Petaluma River Baylands Strategy (Project)

Historically, the Petaluma River Baylands were home to a large, complex, and biologically diverse landscape of tidal habitats, including marshes, mudflats, and open water. Some of the historical tidal marshes of the Petaluma River Baylands remain to this day, including the largest intact tidal marsh plain in the San Francisco Estuary. However, much of the historical bayland landscape has been diked and drained for agricultural purposes and urban development. Today, the Petaluma River Baylands face increasing challenges due to climate change and rising sea levels.

Shallow Groundwater Response to Sea Level Rise (Project)

The response of shallow groundwater to sea-level rise is a relatively new field of study. For low-lying coastal communities, sea-level rise adaptation efforts must consider the potential for groundwater rise to avoid maladaptation. The need to better understand this slow and chronic threat was identified as a critical data gap in the San Francisco Bay Area’s adaptation efforts during the Bay Area Groundwater and Sea-Level Rise Workshop in 2019.

New study advances our understanding of the concerns related to rising groundwater (News)

Featured in the Los Angeles Times, Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco ExaminerKneeDeep Times, Marin Independent Journal, KQED, KALW, and ABC News, a new study sheds light on the hazards presented by rising groundwater.

Blue Carbon Science to Support Climate Action (Project)

Working with other scientists, agency staff, and regional and state-level managers and planners, we are building alignment and capacity for blue carbon quantification through science synthesis, outreach, and mapping.

Landscape Scenario Planning Tool (Project)

This project is a tool for planning scenarios of landscape-scale restoration. The tool is designed to inform ongoing and future restoration planning efforts. In particular, this tool will help inform implementation of restoration objectives as described in the Delta Plan, as well as the ongoing Ecosystem Amendment to Chapter 4.

Introducing the Landscape Scenario Planning Tool Version 2.0 (News)

In partnership with the Delta Stewardship Council, the San Francisco Estuary Institute has developed version 2.0 of the Landscape Scenario Planning Tool, a GIS-based analysis toolkit to evaluate user-designed land use and restoration scenarios for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Suisun Marsh. This free mapping toolbox brings together ten years of science-based research and peer-reviewed methods for California’s Delta-Suisun region. 

Sunnyvale Shoreline Resilience Vision (Project)

The Sunnyvale Shoreline Resilience Vision is an ongoing collaborative effort between a group of organizations deeply invested in long term regional resilience and interested in coordinating across their individual planning efforts. Members of the group are landowners and land managers along the San Francisco Bay shoreline from Stevens Creek to San Tomas Aquino Creek, the “Sunnyvale Shoreline.” The group is focused on adaptation efforts to address climate change risks including sea-level rise, extreme precipitation, and extreme heat.

Sediment for Survival report released (News)

SFEI worked with local, state, and federal science experts to develop the new Sediment for Survival report. The report provides a regional sediment strategy aimed at examining the future of sediment in the Bay and informing sediment management for the resilience of tidal marshes and tidal flats to climate change.

Special Study on Bulk Density (Project)

Sediment bulk density is the total mass of mineral and organic sediment within a defined volume. It is a key variable in many research questions pertaining to Bay sediment studies but one that is often poorly quantified and can be misinterpreted. The motivation for this report comes from a recommendation by Schoellhamer et al. (2018) to compile more accurate estimates of bulk density of Bay sediments to convert between volume and mass with a higher level of certainty.

Sonoma Creek Baylands Strategy (Project)

The Sonoma Creek Baylands Strategy is a comprehensive high-level plan for landscape-scale restoration, flood protection, and public access in the tidal Lower Sonoma Creek portion of the San Pablo Baylands. 

The Strategy: