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Title: Small streams dominate US tidal reaches and will be disproportionately impacted by sea-level rise

Abstract

Rivers and streams represent <0.6% of the Earth’s surface area, but play a disproportionately large role in global biogeochemical cycles and provide locally-relevant ecosystem services. However, our knowledge of how rivers influence material budgets and ecosystem services has major gaps due to the lack of explicit consideration of tidally-influenced reaches. Focusing on the conterminous US, we provide a foundation for understanding the role of tidal streams. We find that 66% of tidal stream length is from low order streams (< 4th order), and that terrestrial ecosystem production in low-lying coastal zones is 30% greater than adjacent terrestrial ecosystems. There is a relatively small difference in stream order length contributions between tidal and non-tidal systems, indicating that small coastal watersheds dominate tidally-influenced spatial domains. Furthermore, we find that relative sea-level rise (RSLR) will have a disproportionate impact on low order tidal streams and their terrestrial interfaces: 1 m RSLR will decrease the land-water interface by 17% and the total surface area of US tidal streams by 31%. Upstream reaches of tidal zones will be extended in response to RSLR, but gains will be more than offset by coastal losses as topographic gradients become steeper moving inland. These results highlight previously unrecognizedmore » dominance, high productivity, and disproportionate future loss of low-order coastal ecosystems. This indicates a critical need to focus study on small tidal stream systems under contemporary and future conditions.« less

Authors:
; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program
OSTI Identifier:
1660489
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1668709
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-145873
Journal ID: ISSN 0048-9697; S0048969720354735; 141944; PII: S0048969720354735
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Science of the Total Environment
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Science of the Total Environment Journal Volume: 753 Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0048-9697
Publisher:
Elsevier
Country of Publication:
Netherlands
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Tidal rivers; biogeochemical; blue carbon; sea-level

Citation Formats

Tagestad, Jerry, Ward, Nicholas D., Butman, David, and Stegen, James. Small streams dominate US tidal reaches and will be disproportionately impacted by sea-level rise. Netherlands: N. p., 2021. Web. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.141944.
Tagestad, Jerry, Ward, Nicholas D., Butman, David, & Stegen, James. Small streams dominate US tidal reaches and will be disproportionately impacted by sea-level rise. Netherlands. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.141944
Tagestad, Jerry, Ward, Nicholas D., Butman, David, and Stegen, James. Fri . "Small streams dominate US tidal reaches and will be disproportionately impacted by sea-level rise". Netherlands. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.141944.
@article{osti_1660489,
title = {Small streams dominate US tidal reaches and will be disproportionately impacted by sea-level rise},
author = {Tagestad, Jerry and Ward, Nicholas D. and Butman, David and Stegen, James},
abstractNote = {Rivers and streams represent <0.6% of the Earth’s surface area, but play a disproportionately large role in global biogeochemical cycles and provide locally-relevant ecosystem services. However, our knowledge of how rivers influence material budgets and ecosystem services has major gaps due to the lack of explicit consideration of tidally-influenced reaches. Focusing on the conterminous US, we provide a foundation for understanding the role of tidal streams. We find that 66% of tidal stream length is from low order streams (< 4th order), and that terrestrial ecosystem production in low-lying coastal zones is 30% greater than adjacent terrestrial ecosystems. There is a relatively small difference in stream order length contributions between tidal and non-tidal systems, indicating that small coastal watersheds dominate tidally-influenced spatial domains. Furthermore, we find that relative sea-level rise (RSLR) will have a disproportionate impact on low order tidal streams and their terrestrial interfaces: 1 m RSLR will decrease the land-water interface by 17% and the total surface area of US tidal streams by 31%. Upstream reaches of tidal zones will be extended in response to RSLR, but gains will be more than offset by coastal losses as topographic gradients become steeper moving inland. These results highlight previously unrecognized dominance, high productivity, and disproportionate future loss of low-order coastal ecosystems. This indicates a critical need to focus study on small tidal stream systems under contemporary and future conditions.},
doi = {10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.141944},
journal = {Science of the Total Environment},
number = C,
volume = 753,
place = {Netherlands},
year = {2021},
month = {1}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text

Figures / Tables:

Figure 1 Figure 1: (Top) Conceptual diagram showing the length of tidally-influenced streams (purple) showing greater TAI contribution from small streams (<4th order) than large rivers (>4th order) in the conterminous US. Dashed purple line represents tidal domain boundary and arrows representing NEP illustrate that tidal domain NEP is 30% greater thanmore » adjacent non-tidal region. (Bottom) The extent of tidal land-water interface that will be lost under 1m of RSLR. Bottom-left inset shows an example of current conditions with blue lines representing non-tidal streams. Bottom-right inset shows the same area after sea-level rise; dashed white line represents the historic coastline, the shaded semi-transparent area shows lost tidal reaches, and the bold purple lines represent new tidal reaches. « less

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Figures/Tables have been extracted from DOE-funded journal article accepted manuscripts.