Reconciling models and measurements of marsh vulnerability to sea level rise

Daniel J. Coleman, Mark Schuerch, Stijn Temmerman, Glenn Guntenspergen, Christopher G. Smith, Matthew L. Kirwan

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Tidal marsh survival in the face of sea level rise (SLR) and declining sediment supply often depends on the ability of marshes to build soil vertically. However, numerical models typically predict survival under rates of SLR that far exceed field-based measurements of vertical accretion. Here, we combine novel measurements from seven U.S. Atlantic Coast marshes and data from 70 additional marshes from around the world to illustrate that—over continental scales—70% of variability in marsh accretion rates can be explained by suspended sediment concentratin (SSC) and spring tidal range (TR). Apparent discrepancies between models and measurements can be explained by differing responses in high marshes and low marshes, the latter of which accretes faster for a given SSC and TR. Together these results help bridge the gap between models and measurements, and reinforce the paradigm that sediment supply is the key determinant of wetland vulnerability at continental scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-149
Number of pages10
JournalLimnology And Oceanography Letters
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the U.S. Geological Survey Land Change Science Climate R&D Program. Additional funding was provided through The National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program, NSF LTER #1832221, NSF EAR‐CAREER #1654374, NSF EAR‐GLD #1529245, and NSF OCE‐SEES #1426981. GRG acknowledges support from the U.S. Geological Survey Ecosystems Mission Area. The authors would like to thank the many researchers who provided valuable data, including W. Wagner, D. von Proosdij, C. Lovelock, K. Rogers, C. Ladd, and J. Raw. We would also like to thank J. Green, D. Walters, J. Himmelstein, D. Nicks, R. Walker, T. Messershmidt, N. Schieder, and the staff of the PIE LTER, GCE LTER, VCR LTER, and CB NERR for their assistance in data collection. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. This is contribution no. 4061 of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the U.S. Geological Survey Land Change Science Climate R&D Program. Additional funding was provided through The National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program, NSF LTER #1832221, NSF EAR-CAREER #1654374, NSF EAR-GLD #1529245, and NSF OCE-SEES #1426981. GRG acknowledges support from the U.S. Geological Survey Ecosystems Mission Area. The authors would like to thank the many researchers who provided valuable data, including W. Wagner, D. von Proosdij, C. Lovelock, K. Rogers, C. Ladd, and J. Raw. We would also like to thank J. Green, D. Walters, J. Himmelstein, D. Nicks, R. Walker, T. Messershmidt, N. Schieder, and the staff of the PIE LTER, GCE LTER, VCR LTER, and CB NERR for their assistance in data collection. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. This is contribution no. 4061 of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Limnology and Oceanography Letters published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography.

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