Mangrove forests are vulnerable to accelerated sea-level rise associated with climate warming because they occupy a relatively narrow zone on the mid-to-upper-intertidal flats. The fate of these ecosystems largely depends on their capacity to accrete sediment at a rate sufficient to maintain their elevation relative to sea level. We investigated the role of biophysical processes and feedbacks controlling surface-elevation dynamics in a fluvial sediment-rich Avicennia marina mangrove forest (New Zealand) at seasonal-to-inter-annual timescales (over 9 years) using the Rod Surface Elevation Table method. We found that sediment accretion in the forest was not measurably enhanced by episodic and short-lived storm discharges from rivers nor by elevated sea levels during storms. Critically, the coupling of frequent onshore winds and resulting resuspension of intertidal muds, with the fortnightly cycle of spring tide inundation, controlled sediment delivery and resulting accretion rates of 13 to 47 mm y−1. In turn, net surface-elevation trends of 0 to 28 mm y−1 were dominated by the physical processes of sediment accretion and shallow subsidence due to seasonal desiccation and resulting compaction of the infrequently inundated forest platform (4 to 16 mm y−1). Our data suggest that monthly and seasonal variation in tidally controlled hydroperiod and sediment delivery rather than episodic storm events are important for the maintenance of mangrove elevation within the intertidal zone.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Landscape evolution of a fluvial sediment-rich Avicennia marina mangrove forest: Insights from seasonal and inter-annual surface-elevation dynamics|
|Contributing office(s)||Patuxent Wildlife Research Center|
|Other Geospatial||Firth of Thames|