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Conceptual salt marsh units for wetland synthesis: Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey

October 31, 2016

The salt marsh complex of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (EBFNWR), which spans over Great Bay, Little Egg Harbor, and Barnegat Bay (New Jersey, USA), was delineated to smaller, conceptual marsh units by geoprocessing of surface elevation data. Flow accumulation based on the relative elevation of each location is used to determine the ridge lines that separate each marsh unit while the surface slope is used to automatically assign each unit a drainage point, where water is expected to drain through. Through scientific efforts associated with the Hurricane Sandy Science Plan, the U.S. Geological Survey has started to expand national assessment of coastal change hazards and forecast products to coastal wetlands. The intent is to provide federal, state, and local managers with tools to estimate their vulnerability and ecosystem service potential. For this purpose, the response and resilience of coastal wetlands to both physical factors needs to be assessed in terms of the ensuing change to their vulnerability and ecosystem services. EBFNWR was selected as a pilot study.

Recent research shows that sediment budgets of microtidal marsh complexes on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States consistently scale with areal unvegetated/vegetated marsh ratio (UVVR) despite differences in sea-level rise, tidal range, elevation, vegetation, and stressors. This highlights UVVR as a broadly applicable indicator of microtidal marsh stability. It is also relatively quicker and less labor intensive compared to quantifying integrative sediment budgets and the associated transport mechanisms that requires extended tidal-timescale observations of sediment transport. UVVR indicates the link between open-water conversion processes and sediment transport, providing consistent results across a geomorphic and climatic spectrum of microtidal marshes, hence can be an independent measure of marsh health. Potentially, tracking future changes to UVVR may allow for widespread mapping of spatially variable vulnerability across microtidal marshes worldwide.

Publication Year 2016
Title Conceptual salt marsh units for wetland synthesis: Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey
DOI 10.5066/F7QV3JPG
Authors Zafer Defne, Neil Kamal Ganju
Product Type Data Release
Record Source USGS Digital Object Identifier Catalog
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center