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Title: The Importance of Storm Surge for Sediment Delivery to Microtidal Marshes

Storm surge has the potential to significantly increase suspended sediment flux to microtidal marshes. However, the overall effects of storm surge on microtidal marsh deposition have not been well quantified, with most modeling studies focusing on regular (astronomical) tidal flooding. Here we applied the Delft3D model to a microtidal bay‐marsh complex in Hog Bay, Virginia to quantify the contributions of storm surge to marsh deposition. We validated the model using spatially distributed hydrodynamic and suspended sediment data collected from the site and ran model simulations under different storm surge conditions with/without storm‐driven water level changes. Our results show that episodic storm surge events occurred 5% of the time at our study site, but contributed 40% of marsh deposition during 2009–2020. Our simulations illustrate that while wind‐driven waves control sediment resuspension on tidal flats, marsh deposition during storms was largely determined by tidal inundation associated with storm‐driven water levels. A moderate storm surge event can double sediment flux to most marshes around the bay and deliver more sediment to the marsh interior compared to simulations that include wind waves but not storm surge variations in water levels. Simulations of bay and marsh response to different storm surge events with varying magnitude of storm surge intensity reveal that total marsh deposition around the bay increased linearly with storm surge intensity, suggesting that future changes to storm magnitude and/or frequency would have significant implications for sediment supply to marshes at our study site.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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