Modeling tidal freshwater marsh sustainability in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta under a broad suite of potential future scenarios

San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science
By: , and 

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Abstract

In this paper, we report on the adaptation and application of a one-dimensional marsh surface elevation model, the Wetland Accretion Rate Model of Ecosystem Resilience (WARMER), to explore the conditions that lead to sustainable tidal freshwater marshes in the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta. We defined marsh accretion parameters to encapsulate the range of observed values over historic and modern time-scales based on measurements from four marshes in high and low energy fluvial environments as well as possible future trends in sediment supply and mean sea level. A sensitivity analysis of 450 simulations was conducted encompassing a range of eScholarship provides open access, scholarly publishing services to the University of California and delivers a dynamic research platform to scholars worldwide. porosity values, initial elevations, organic and inorganic matter accumulation rates, and sea-level rise rates. For the range of inputs considered, the magnitude of SLR over the next century was the primary driver of marsh surface elevation change. Sediment supply was the secondary control. More than 84% of the scenarios resulted in sustainable marshes with 88 cm of SLR by 2100, but only 32% and 11% of the scenarios resulted in surviving marshes when SLR was increased to 133 cm and 179 cm, respectively. Marshes situated in high-energy zones were marginally more resilient than those in low-energy zones because of their higher inorganic sediment supply. Overall, the results from this modeling exercise suggest that marshes at the upstream reaches of the Delta—where SLR may be attenuated—and high energy marshes along major channels with high inorganic sediment accumulation rates will be more resilient to global SLR in excess of 88 cm over the next century than their downstream and low-energy counterparts. However, considerable uncertainties exist in the projected rates of sea-level rise and sediment avail-ability. In addition, more research is needed to constrain future rates of aboveground and belowground plant productivity under increased CO<sub>2</sub> concentrations and flooding.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Modeling tidal freshwater marsh sustainability in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta under a broad suite of potential future scenarios
Series title San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science
DOI 10.15447/sfews.2015v13iss1art3
Volume 13
Issue 1
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher John Muir Institute of the Environment
Publisher location Sacramento, CA
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center
Description 21 p.
First page 1
Last page 21
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Sacremento-San Joaquin Delta
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N