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  1. Abstract Salt marshes are threatened by rising sea levels and human activities, and a major mechanism of marsh loss is edge retreat or erosion. To understand and predict loss in these valuable ecosystems, studies have related erosion to marsh hydrodynamics and wave characteristics such as wave power. Across global studies, erosion is reported to be largely linearly related to wave power, with this relationship having implications for the resilience of marshes to extreme events such as storms. However, there is significant variability in this relationship across marshes because of marsh heterogeneity and the uniqueness of each physical setting. Here, we investigate the results of individual studies throughout the world that report a linear relationship and add a new dataset from the Great Marsh in Massachusetts (USA). We find that most marsh wave power and erosion data are not normally distributed and when these datasets are properly plotted to account for their distributions, the resulting relationships vary from previously published curves. Our Great Marsh data suggest that events from specific wind directions can have an outsized impact on edge erosion due to their larger fetch and wind speeds. We also find that factors other than wave attack such as edge erosion along tidal channels, can have a measurable impact on retreat rates. We show the importance of maintaining statistical assumptions when performing regressions, as well as emphasize the site-specificity of these relationships. Without calibration of a marsh erosion-wave power relationship using robust regressions for each individual marsh, such a relationship is not fully constrained, resulting in unreliable predictions of future marsh resilience and response to climate change. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    With Arctic amplification (enhanced polar warming) possibly increasing periods of intense winter freezing and global warming producing more powerful extratropical storms, winter sedimentation on northern salt marshes may likely increase in the future. Here, we show that a large ice‐rafting event in northern Massachusetts delivered the equivalent of 15 years of mineral deposition to the marsh surface in a single storm. During an intense extratropical cyclone in January 2018, sediment‐laden ice was rafted onto the Great Marsh, Massachusetts, by an ~1‐m storm surge coinciding with high astronomical tides. The muddy sand content combined with abundant shells indicates that the sediment originated from proximal bays and tidal flats. Sediment layers delivered by individual ice rafts averaged 3.19 cm in thickness, 12 times the combined organic and inorganic yearly vertical accretion rate on high marshes. This previously underappreciated vector for sediment deposition is likely to help marsh resiliency to sea‐level rise.

     
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