Influence of tidal range on the stability of coastal marshland

Journal of Geophysical Research
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Early comparisons between rates of vertical accretion and sea level rise across marshes in different tidal ranges inspired a paradigm that marshes in high tidal range environments are more resilient to sea level rise than marshes in low tidal range environments. We use field‐based observations to propose a relationship between vegetation growth and tidal range and to adapt two numerical models of marsh evolution to explicitly consider the effect of tidal range on the response of the marsh platform channel network system to accelerating rates of sea level rise. We find that the stability of both the channel network and vegetated platform increases with increasing tidal range. Our results support earlier hypotheses that suggest enhanced stability can be directly attributable to a vegetation growth range that expands with tidal range. Accretion rates equilibrate to the rate of sea level rise in all experiments regardless of tidal range, suggesting that comparisons between accretion rate and tidal range will not likely produce a significant relationship. Therefore, our model results offer an explanation to widely inconsistent field‐based attempts to quantify this relationship while still supporting the long‐held paradigm that high tidal range marshes are indeed more stable.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Influence of tidal range on the stability of coastal marshland
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research
Volume 115
Issue F2
Year Published 2010
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 11 p.
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