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  1. Abstract

    The vulnerability of coastal environments to sea-level rise varies spatially, particularly due to local land subsidence. However, high-resolution observations and models of coastal subsidence are scarce, hindering an accurate vulnerability assessment. We use satellite data from 2007 to 2020 to create high-resolution map of subsidence rate at mm-level accuracy for different land covers along the ~3,500 km long US Atlantic coast. Here, we show that subsidence rate exceeding 3 mm per year affects most coastal areas, including wetlands, forests, agricultural areas, and developed regions. Coastal marshes represent the dominant land cover type along the US Atlantic coast and are particularly vulnerable to subsidence. We estimate that 58 to 100% of coastal marshes are losing elevation relative to sea level and show that previous studies substantially underestimate marsh vulnerability by not fully accounting for subsidence.

  2. Abstract

    Ecosystem connectivity tends to increase the resilience and function of ecosystems responding to stressors. Coastal ecosystems sequester disproportionately large amounts of carbon, but rapid exchange of water, nutrients, and sediment makes them vulnerable to sea level rise and coastal erosion. Individual components of the coastal landscape (i.e., marsh, forest, bay) have contrasting responses to sea level rise, making it difficult to forecast the response of the integrated coastal carbon sink. Here we couple a spatially-explicit geomorphic model with a point-based carbon accumulation model, and show that landscape connectivity, in-situ carbon accumulation rates, and the size of the landscape-scale coastal carbon stock all peak at intermediate sea level rise rates despite divergent responses of individual components. Progressive loss of forest biomass under increasing sea level rise leads to a shift from a system dominated by forest biomass carbon towards one dominated by marsh soil carbon that is maintained by substantial recycling of organic carbon between marshes and bays. These results suggest that climate change strengthens connectivity between adjacent coastal ecosystems, but with tradeoffs that include a shift towards more labile carbon, smaller marsh and forest extents, and the accumulation of carbon in portions of the landscape more vulnerable to seamore »level rise and erosion.

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  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  6. Coastal ecosystems represent a disproportionately large but vulnerable global carbon sink. Sea-level-driven tidal wetland degradation and upland forest mortality threaten coastal carbon pools, but responses of the broader coastal landscape to interacting facets of climate change remain poorly understood. Here, we use 36 years of satellite observations across the mid-Atlantic sea-level rise hotspot to show that climate change has actually increased the amount of carbon stored in the biomass of coastal ecosystems despite substantial areal loss. We find that sea-level-driven reductions in wetland and low-lying forest biomass were largely confined to areas less than 2 m above sea level, whereas the otherwise warmer and wetter climate led to an increase in the biomass of adjacent upland forests. Integrated across the entire coastal landscape, climate-driven upland greening offset sea-level-driven biomass losses, such that the net impact of climate change was to increase the amount of carbon stored in coastal vegetation. These results point to a fundamental decoupling between upland and wetland carbon trends that can only be understood by integrating observations across traditional ecosystem boundaries. This holistic approach may provide a template for quantifying carbon–climate feedbacks and other aspects of coastal change that extend beyond sea-level rise alone.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 6, 2023
  7. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023