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Title: Localized Scenarios and Latitudinal Patterns of Vertical and Lateral Resilience of Tidal Marshes to Sea‐Level Rise in the Contiguous United States

Coastal wetlands have two dimensions of vulnerability to sea‐level rise (SLR), a vertical one, in cases where SLR outpaces their capacity to vertically accrete, and a lateral one, in cases where they are restricted from migrating inland by topography and land use. We conducted a meta‐analysis of accretion rates, standardized our analysis by using only137Cs based estimates, and used model intercomparison to generate a vertical resilience index, a function of local SLR, tidal range, and tidal elevation category for the tidal wetlands of the contiguous US. We paired the vertical resilience index with a lateral resilience index made up of elevation, water level, and land cover maps, then projected them both into the future using localized SLR scenarios. At the regional scale, the vertical resilience index predicts changes from marsh aggradation to submergence for the coastal US Mid‐Atlantic, Southeast, and portions of the Northeast by 2100. At the sub‐regional scale, there is a geographic tradeoff between vertical and lateral resilience with more northerly wetlands vulnerable to the lack of suitable proportional area to migrate into, and more southerly wetlands vulnerable to accretion deficit. We estimate between 43% and 48% of the existing contiguous US wetland area, almost entirely located in watersheds along the Gulf of Mexico and Mid‐Atlantic coasts, is subject to both vertical and lateral limitations. These vertical and lateral resilience indices could help direct future research, planning, and mitigation efforts at a national scale, as well as supplement more processed informed approaches by local planners and practitioners.

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DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
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Journal Name:
Earth's Future
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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