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  1. null (Ed.)
  2. Global assessments predict the impact of sea-level rise on salt marshes with present-day levels of sediment supply from rivers and the coastal ocean. However, these assessments do not consider that variations in marsh extent and the related reconfiguration of intertidal area affect local sediment dynamics, ultimately controlling the fate of the marshes themselves. We conducted a meta-analysis of six bays along the United States East Coast to show that a reduction in the current salt marsh area decreases the sediment availability in estuarine systems through changes in regional-scale hydrodynamics. This positive feedback between marsh disappearance and the ability of coastal bays to retain sediments reduces the trapping capacity of the whole tidal system and jeopardizes the survival of the remaining marshes. We show that on marsh platforms, the sediment deposition per unit area decreases exponentially with marsh loss. Marsh erosion enlarges tidal prism values and enhances the tendency toward ebb dominance, thus decreasing the overall sediment availability of the system. Our findings highlight that marsh deterioration reduces the sediment stock in back-barrier basins and therefore compromises the resilience of salt marshes. 
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  3. Abstract

    Sediment budget and sediment availability are direct metrics for evaluating the resilience of coastal bays to sea‐level rise (SLR). Here we use a high‐resolution numerical model of a tidally dominated marsh‐lagoon system to explore feedbacks between SLR and sediment dynamics. SLR augments tidal prism and inundation depth, facilitating sediment deposition on the marsh platform. At the same time, our results indicate that SLR enhances ebb‐dominated currents and increases sediment resuspension, reducing the sediment‐trapping capacity of tidal flats and bays and leading to a negative sediment budget for the entire system. This bimodal distribution of sediments budget trajectories will have a profound impact on the morphology of coastal bays, increasing the difference in elevation between salt marshes and tidal flats and potentially affecting intertidal ecosystems. Our results also clearly indicate that landforms lower with respect to the tidal frame are more affected by SLR than salt marshes.

     
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  4. Abstract

    Salt marshes are dynamic systems able to laterally expand, contract, and vertically accrete in response to sea level rise. Here, we present the grand challenges that need to be addressed to fully characterize marsh morphodynamics. The review focuses on physical processes and quantitative models. Without predictive models, it is impossible to determine the future marsh evolution under accelerated sea level rise. In these models, one of the challenges is to resolve both horizontal and vertical dynamics within the same framework. Vertically, the marsh has to accumulate enough material to contrast rising water levels. Horizontally, marsh erosion at the ocean side must be compensated by landward expansion in forests, lawns, and agricultural fields. The dynamics of the marsh‐upland boundary are still not fully understood and will require more research in the upcoming years. The complexity of marsh vegetation is seldom captured in predictive models of marsh evolution. More research is needed to understand the effects of each species or species assemblages on hydrodynamics and sediment transport. Here, we further advocate that a sediment budget resolving all sediment fluxes in a marsh complex is the most important metric of marsh resilience. Characterization of these fluxes will enable to connect salt marshes to other landforms and to unravel feedbacks controlling the evolution of the entire coastal system. Current models of marsh evolution rely on sparse data sets collected at few locations. Novel remote sensing techniques will provide high‐resolution spatial data that will inform a new generation of computer models.

     
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