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Modeling the dynamics of salt marsh development in coastal land reclamation

March 16, 2022

The valuable ecosystem services of salt marshes are spurring marsh restoration projects around the world. However, it is difficult to determine the final vegetated area based on physical drivers. Herein, we use a 3D fully coupled vegetation-hydrodynamic-morphological modeling system (COAWST), to simulate the final vegetation cover and the timescale to reach it under various forcing conditions. Marsh development in our simulations can be divided in three distinctive phases: a preparation phase characterized by sediment accumulation in the absence of vegetation, an encroachment phase in which the vegetated area grows, and an adjustment phase in which the vegetated area remains relatively constant while marsh accretes vertically to compensate for sea level rise. Sediment concentration, settling velocity, sea level rise and tidal range each comparably affect equilibrium coverage and timescale in different ways. Our simulations show that the Unvegetated-Vegetated Ratio (UVVR) also relates to sediment budget in marsh development under most conditions.

Publication Year 2022
Title Modeling the dynamics of salt marsh development in coastal land reclamation
DOI 10.1029/2021GL095559
Authors Yiyang Xu, Tarandeep S. Kalra, Neil K. Ganju, Sergio Fagherazzi
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geophysical Research Letters
Index ID 70230023
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center