Surface elevation change dynamics in coastal marshes along the northwestern Gulf of Mexico: Anticipating effects of rising sea-level and intensifying hurricanes

Wetlands
By: , and 

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Abstract

Accelerated sea-level rise and intensifying hurricanes highlight the need to better understand surface elevation change in coastal wetlands. We used the surface elevation table-marker horizon approach to measure surface elevation change in 14 coastal marshes along the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, within five National Wildlife Refuges in Texas (USA). During the 2014–2019 study period, the mean rate of surface elevation change was 1.96 ± 0.87 mm yr−1 (range: -1.57 to 8.37 mm yr−1). Vertical accretion rates varied due to landscape proximity relative to sediment inputs from Hurricane Harvey. At most sites, vertical accretion offset subsurface losses due to shallow subsidence. However, net elevation gains were often lower than recent relative sea-level rise rates, and much lower than rates expected under future sea-level rise. Because these marshes are not keeping pace with recent sea-level rise, it is unlikely that they will be able to adjust to future accelerations. Climate change threatens these Texas coastal wetlands and the ecological and economic services they provide. By characterizing the status and prospective loss of coastal marshes, our study reinforces the value of identifying local and landscape-level adaptation mechanisms that can enhance the ability of coastal marshes to adapt to threats posed by climate change.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Surface elevation change dynamics in coastal marshes along the northwestern Gulf of Mexico: Anticipating effects of rising sea-level and intensifying hurricanes
Series title Wetlands
DOI 10.1007/s13157-022-01565-3
Volume 42
Issue 5
Year Published 2022
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description 49, 17 p.
Country United States
State Texas
Other Geospatial northwestern Gulf of Mexico
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