Salt marshes are valued for their ecosystem services, and their vulnerability is typically assessed through biotic and abiotic measurements at individual points on the landscape. However, lateral erosion can lead to rapid marsh loss as marshes build vertically. Marsh sediment budgets represent a spatially integrated measure of competing constructive and destructive forces: a sediment surplus may result in vertical growth and/or lateral expansion, while a sediment deficit may result in drowning and/or lateral contraction. Here we show that sediment budgets of eight microtidal marsh complexes consistently scale with areal unvegetated/vegetated marsh ratios (UVVR) suggesting these metrics are broadly applicable indicators of microtidal marsh vulnerability. All sites are exhibiting a sediment deficit, with half the sites having projected lifespans of less than 350 years at current rates of sea-level rise and sediment availability. These results demonstrate that open-water conversion and sediment deficits are holistic and sensitive indicators of salt marsh vulnerability.
Herein, we investigate the relationship between wind waves, salt marsh erosion rates, and the planar shape of marsh boundaries by using aerial images and the numerical model Coupled‐Ocean‐Atmosphere‐Wave‐Sediment‐Transport Modeling System (COAWST). Using Barnegat Bay, New Jersey, as a test site, we found that salt marsh erosion rates maintain a similar trend in time. We also found a significant relationship between salt marsh erosion rates and the shape of marsh boundaries which could be used as a geomorphic indicator of the degradation level of the marsh. Slowly eroding salt marshes are irregularly shaped with fractal dimension higher than rapidly deteriorating marshes. Moreover, for low‐wave energy conditions, there is a high probability of isolated and significantly larger than average failures of marsh portions causing a long‐tailed distribution of localized erosion rates. Finally, we confirm the existence of a significant relationship between salt marsh erosion rate and wind waves exposure. Results suggest that variations in time in the morphology of salt marsh boundaries could be used to infer changes in frequency and magnitude of external agents.
a b s t r a c tThe processes of wetting and drying have many important physical and biological impacts on shallow water systems. Inundation and dewatering effects on coastal mud flats and beaches occur on various time scales ranging from storm surge, periodic rise and fall of the tide, to infragravity wave motions. To correctly simulate these physical processes with a numerical model requires the capability of the computational cells to become inundated and dewatered. In this paper, we describe a method for wetting and drying based on an approach consistent with a cell-face blocking algorithm. The method allows water to always flow into any cell, but prevents outflow from a cell when the total depth in that cell is less than a user defined critical value. We describe the method, the implementation into the threedimensional Regional Oceanographic Modeling System (ROMS), and exhibit the new capability under three scenarios: an analytical expression for shallow water flows, a dam break test case, and a realistic application to part of a wetland area along the Georgia Coast, USA.Published by Elsevier Ltd.
This paper presents a modeling investigation of the hydrodynamic and sediment transport response of Chincoteague Bay (VA/MD, USA) to Hurricane Sandy using the Coupled Ocean‐Atmosphere‐Wave‐Sediment‐Transport (COAWST) modeling system. Several simulation scenarios with different combinations of remote and local forces were conducted to identify the dominant physical processes. While 80% of the water level increase in the bay was due to coastal sea level at the peak of the storm, a rich spatial and temporal variability in water surface slope was induced by local winds and waves. Local wind increased vertical mixing, horizontal exchanges, and flushing through the inlets. Remote waves (swell) enhanced southward flow through wave setup gradients between the inlets, and increased locally generated wave heights. Locally generated waves had a negligible effect on water level but reduced the residual flow up to 70% due to enhanced apparent roughness and breaking‐induced forces. Locally generated waves dominated bed shear stress and sediment resuspension in the bay. Sediment transport patterns mirrored the interior coastline shape and generated deposition on inundated areas. The bay served as a source of fine sediment to the inner shelf, and the ocean‐facing barrier island accumulated sand from landward‐directed overwash. Despite the intensity of the storm forcing, the bathymetric changes in the bay were on the order of centimeters. This work demonstrates the spectrum of responses to storm forcing, and highlights the importance of local and remote processes on back‐barrier estuarine function.
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