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The potential resiliency of a created tidal marsh to sea-level rise

November 1, 2019

The purpose of this study was to determine the elevation dynamics of a created tidal marsh on the North Carolina coast. Deep rod surface elevation tables (RSET) and feldspar marker horizons (MH) were installed in plots to measure net surface elevation changes and to quantify contributing processes. Twelve total plots were placed on four elevation gradient transects (three transects within the created marsh and one within a reference marsh) with three plots along each transect. Elevation gradient transects included a low marsh plot dominated by Spartina alterniflora, a middle marsh plot dominated by Juncus roemerianus, and a high marsh plot dominated by Spartina patens. RSET and MH measurements were taken in December 2012, January 2014, April 2017, and March 2018. Elevation change ranged from 0.7 to 4.0 mm yr-1 within the created marsh and -0.6 to 2.1 mm yr-1 within the reference marsh. When compared to the long-term linear trend in local relative sea level rise (RSLR) of 3.10 +/- 0.35 mm yr-1, the middle marsh plots within the created marsh trended toward survival with an observed elevation increase of 3.1 +/- 0.2 mm yr-1. Alternatively, the low and high marsh plots within the created marsh trended towards submergence with observed elevation increases of 2.1+/- 0.2 and 1.3 +/- 0.2 mm yr-1, respectively. These results indicate that a created marsh can display elevation dynamics similar to natural marshes. Surface elevation changes were observed over a short time period and in a relatively young marsh, so it is uncertain if these trends will continue or how the longer-term relationship with RSLR will develop. While this study provided the initial data on the ability of created tidal marshes to respond to observed sea-level rise, long-term observations will be continued to evaluate long-term elevation dynamics.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title The potential resiliency of a created tidal marsh to sea-level rise
DOI 10.13031/trans.13438
Authors Brock J. W. Kamrath, Michael R. Burchell, Nicole Cormier, Ken W. Krauss, Darren Johnson
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Transactions of the ASABE
Series Number
Index ID 70207296
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center