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Title: Tidal Marshes across a Chesapeake Bay Subestuary Are Not Keeping up with Sea-Level Rise

Abstract

Sea-level rise is a major factor in wetland loss worldwide, and inmuch of Chesapeake Bay (USA) the rate of sea-level rise is higher than the current global rate of 3.2 mmyr-1 due to regional subsidence.Marshes along estuarine salinity gradients differ in vegetation composition, productivity, decomposition pathways, and sediment dynamics, andmay exhibit different responses to sea-level rise. Coastal marshes persist by building vertically at rates at or exceeding regional sea-level rise. In one of the first studies to examine elevation dynamics across an estuarine salinity gradient, we installed 15 surface elevation tables (SET) and accretion marker-horizon plots (MH) in tidal freshwater, oligohaline, and brackish marshes across a Chesapeake Bay subestuary. Over the course of four years, wetlands across the subestuary decreased 1.8 ± 2.7 mmyr-1 in elevation on average, at least 5 mmyr-1 below that needed to keep pace with global sea-level rise. Elevation change rates did not significantly differ among themarshes studied, and ranged from-9.8 ± 6.9 to 4.5 ± 4.3 mmyr-1. Surface accretion of depositedmineral and organic matter was uniformly high across the estuary (~9–15 mmyr-1), indicating that elevation loss was not due to lack of accretionary input. Position in the estuary and associated salinity regime were not relatedmore » to elevation change or surface matter accretion. In conclusion, previous studies have focused on surface elevation change inmarshes of uniformsalinity (e.g., salt marshes); however, our findings highlight the need for elevation studies inmarshes of all salinity regimes and different geomorphic positions, and warn that brackish, oligohaline, and freshwater tidal wetlands may be at similarly high risk of submergence in some estuaries.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [2];  [3]
  1. Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD (United States); Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Olympia, WA (United States)
  2. Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD (United States)
  3. Univ. of South Alabama, Mobile, AL (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
U.S. Department of Energy, National Institute for Climatic Change Research; USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
OSTI Identifier:
1377826
Grant/Contract Number:  
TUL-543-06/07
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
PLoS ONE
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 11; Journal Issue: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher:
Public Library of Science
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; marshes; salinity; estuaries; sediment; fresh water; wetlands; linear regression analysis; decomposition

Citation Formats

Beckett, Leah H., Baldwin, Andrew H., Kearney, Michael S., and Cebrian, Just. Tidal Marshes across a Chesapeake Bay Subestuary Are Not Keeping up with Sea-Level Rise. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0159753.
Beckett, Leah H., Baldwin, Andrew H., Kearney, Michael S., & Cebrian, Just. Tidal Marshes across a Chesapeake Bay Subestuary Are Not Keeping up with Sea-Level Rise. United States. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0159753.
Beckett, Leah H., Baldwin, Andrew H., Kearney, Michael S., and Cebrian, Just. Thu . "Tidal Marshes across a Chesapeake Bay Subestuary Are Not Keeping up with Sea-Level Rise". United States. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0159753. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1377826.
@article{osti_1377826,
title = {Tidal Marshes across a Chesapeake Bay Subestuary Are Not Keeping up with Sea-Level Rise},
author = {Beckett, Leah H. and Baldwin, Andrew H. and Kearney, Michael S. and Cebrian, Just},
abstractNote = {Sea-level rise is a major factor in wetland loss worldwide, and inmuch of Chesapeake Bay (USA) the rate of sea-level rise is higher than the current global rate of 3.2 mmyr-1 due to regional subsidence.Marshes along estuarine salinity gradients differ in vegetation composition, productivity, decomposition pathways, and sediment dynamics, andmay exhibit different responses to sea-level rise. Coastal marshes persist by building vertically at rates at or exceeding regional sea-level rise. In one of the first studies to examine elevation dynamics across an estuarine salinity gradient, we installed 15 surface elevation tables (SET) and accretion marker-horizon plots (MH) in tidal freshwater, oligohaline, and brackish marshes across a Chesapeake Bay subestuary. Over the course of four years, wetlands across the subestuary decreased 1.8 ± 2.7 mmyr-1 in elevation on average, at least 5 mmyr-1 below that needed to keep pace with global sea-level rise. Elevation change rates did not significantly differ among themarshes studied, and ranged from-9.8 ± 6.9 to 4.5 ± 4.3 mmyr-1. Surface accretion of depositedmineral and organic matter was uniformly high across the estuary (~9–15 mmyr-1), indicating that elevation loss was not due to lack of accretionary input. Position in the estuary and associated salinity regime were not related to elevation change or surface matter accretion. In conclusion, previous studies have focused on surface elevation change inmarshes of uniformsalinity (e.g., salt marshes); however, our findings highlight the need for elevation studies inmarshes of all salinity regimes and different geomorphic positions, and warn that brackish, oligohaline, and freshwater tidal wetlands may be at similarly high risk of submergence in some estuaries.},
doi = {10.1371/journal.pone.0159753},
journal = {PLoS ONE},
number = 7,
volume = 11,
place = {United States},
year = {2016},
month = {7}
}

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