Storm surges and climate change implications for tidal marshes: Insight from the San Francisco Bay Estuary, California, USA

International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses
By: , and 

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Abstract

Tidal marshes are dynamic ecosystems, which are influenced by oceanic and freshwater processes and daily changes in sea level. Projected sea-level rise and changes in storm frequency and intensity will affect tidal marshes by altering suspended sediment supply, plant communities, and the inundation duration and depth of the marsh platform. The objective of this research was to evaluate if regional weather conditions resulting in low-pressure storms changed tidal conditions locally within three tidal marshes. We hypothesized that regional storms will increase sea level heights locally, resulting in increased inundation of the tidal marsh platform and plant communities. Using site-level measurements of elevation, plant communities, and water levels, we present results from two storm events in 2010 and 2011 from the San Francisco Bay Estuary (SFBE), California, USA. The January 2010 storm had the lowest recorded sea level pressure in the last 30 years for this region. During the storm episodes, the duration of tidal marsh inundation was 1.8 and 3.1 times greater than average for that time of year, respectively. At peak storm surges, over 65% in 2010 and 93% in 2011 of the plant community was under water. We also discuss the implications of these types of storms and projected sea-level rise on the structure and function of the tidal marshes and how that will impact the hydro-geomorphic processes and marsh biotic communities.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Storm surges and climate change implications for tidal marshes: Insight from the San Francisco Bay Estuary, California, USA
Series title International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses
Volume 4
Issue 4
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher Climate Change: Impacts and Responses
Contributing office(s) San Francisco Bay-Delta, Western Ecological Research Center
Description 22 p.
First page 169
Last page 190
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial San Francisco Bay Estuary
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N