Sediment Transport

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  • Article
    Increased utilization of storm surge barriers: a research agenda on estuary impacts
    (American Geophysical Union, 2023-03-27) Orton, Philip ; Ralston, David ; Prooijen, Bram ; Secor, David ; Ganju, Neil ; Chen, Ziyu ; Fernald, Sarah ; Brooks, Bennett ; Marcell, Kristin
    Rising coastal flood risk and recent disasters are driving interest in the construction of gated storm surge barriers worldwide, with current studies recommending barriers for at least 11 estuaries in the United States alone. Surge barriers partially block estuary‐ocean exchange with infrastructure across an estuary or its inlet and include gated areas that are closed only during flood events. They can alter the stratification and salt intrusion, change sedimentary systems, and curtail animal migration and ecosystem connectivity, with impacts growing larger with increasing gate closures. Existing barriers are being used with increasing frequency due to sea level rise. New barrier proposals typically come with maximum closure frequency recommendations, yet the future adherence to them is uncertain. Given that the broader environmental effects and coupled‐human dynamics of surge barriers are not well‐understood, we present an interdisciplinary research agenda for this increasingly prevalent modification to our coastal zone.
  • Article
    CoastalImageLib: an open- source Python package for creating common coastal image products
    (Elsevier, 2022-10-19) McCann, Maile P. ; Anderson, Dylan L. ; Sherwood, Christopher R. ; Bruder, Brittany ; Bak, A. Spicer ; Brodie, Katherine L.
    CoastalImageLib is a Python library that produces common coastal image products intended for quantitative analysis of coastal environments. This library contains functions to georectify and merge multiple oblique camera views, produce statistical image products for a given set of images, and create subsampled pixel instruments for use in bathymetric inversion, surface current estimation, run-up calculations, and other quantitative analyses. This package intends to be an open-source broadly generalizable front end to future coastal imaging applications, ultimately expanding user accessibility to optical remote sensing of coastal environments. This package was developed and tested on data collected from the Argus Tower, a 43 m tall observation structure in Duck, North Carolina at the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Field Research Facility that holds six stationary cameras which collect twice-hourly coastal image products. Thus, CoastalImageLib also contains functions designed to interface with the file storage and collection system implemented at the Argus Tower.
  • Article
    Variability in marsh migration potential determined by topographic rather than anthropogenic constraints in the Chesapeake Bay region
    (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, 2022-05-31) Molino, Grace D. ; Carr, Joel A. ; Ganju, Neil K. ; Kirwan, Matthew L.
    Sea level rise (SLR) and saltwater intrusion are driving inland shifts in coastal ecosystems. Here, we make high-resolution (1 m) predictions of land conversion under future SLR scenarios in 81 watersheds surrounding Chesapeake Bay, United States, a hotspot for accelerated SLR and saltwater intrusion. We find that 1050–3748 km2 of marsh could be created by 2100, largely at the expense of forested wetlands. Predicted marsh migration exceeds total current tidal marsh area and is ~ 4× greater than historical observations. Anthropogenic land use in marsh migration areas is concentrated within a few watersheds and minimally impacts calculated metrics of marsh resilience. Despite regional marsh area maintenance, local ecosystem service replacement within vulnerable watersheds remains uncertain. However, our work suggests that topography rather than land use drives spatial variability in wetland vulnerability regionally, and that rural land conversion is needed to compensate for extensive areal losses on heavily developed coasts globally.
  • Article
    Impoundment increases methane emissions in Phragmites‐invaded coastal wetlands
    (Wiley, 2022-05-26) Sanders-DeMott, Rebecca ; Eagle, Meagan ; Kroeger, Kevin D. ; Wang, Faming ; Brooks, Thomas W. ; O'Keefe Suttles, Jennifer A. ; Nick, Sydney K. ; Mann, Adrian G. ; Tang, Jianwu
    Saline tidal wetlands are important sites of carbon sequestration and produce negligible methane (CH4) emissions due to regular inundation with sulfate-rich seawater. Yet, widespread management of coastal hydrology has restricted tidal exchange in vast areas of coastal wetlands. These ecosystems often undergo impoundment and freshening, which in turn cause vegetation shifts like invasion by Phragmites, that affect ecosystem carbon balance. Understanding controls and scaling of carbon exchange in these understudied ecosystems is critical for informing climate consequences of blue carbon restoration and/or management interventions. Here, we (1) examine how carbon fluxes vary across a salinity gradient (4–25 psu) in impounded and natural, tidally unrestricted Phragmites wetlands using static chambers and (2) probe drivers of carbon fluxes within an impounded coastal wetland using eddy covariance at the Herring River in Wellfleet, MA, United States. Freshening across the salinity gradient led to a 50-fold increase in CH4 emissions, but effects on carbon dioxide (CO2) were less pronounced with uptake generally enhanced in the fresher, impounded sites. The impounded wetland experienced little variation in water-table depth or salinity during the growing season and was a strong CO2 sink of −352 g CO2-C m−2 year−1 offset by CH4 emission of 11.4 g CH4-C m−2 year−1. Growing season CH4 flux was driven primarily by temperature. Methane flux exhibited a diurnal cycle with a night-time minimum that was not reflected in opaque chamber measurements. Therefore, we suggest accounting for the diurnal cycle of CH4 in Phragmites, for example by applying a scaling factor developed here of ~0.6 to mid-day chamber measurements. Taken together, these results suggest that although freshened, impounded wetlands can be strong carbon sinks, enhanced CH4 emission with freshening reduces net radiative balance. Restoration of tidal flow to impounded ecosystems could limit CH4 production and enhance their climate regulating benefits.
  • Article
    Development and application of landsat-based wetland vegetation cover and unvegetated-vegetated marsh ratio (UVVR) for the conterminous United States
    (Springer, 2022-05-02) Ganju, Neil K. ; Defne, Zafer ; Ackerman, Katherine V.
    Effective management and restoration of salt marshes and other vegetated intertidal habitats require objective and spatially integrated metrics of geomorphic status and vulnerability. The unvegetated-vegetated marsh ratio (UVVR), a recently developed metric, can be used to establish present-day vegetative cover, identify stability thresholds, and quantify vulnerability to open-water conversion over a range of spatial scales. We developed a Landsat-based approach to quantify the within-pixel vegetated fraction and UVVR for coastal wetlands of the conterminous United States, at 30-m resolution for 2014–2018. Here we present the methodology used to generate the UVVR from spectral indices, along with calibration, validation, and spatial autocorrelation assessments. We then demonstrate multiple applications of the data across varying spatial scales: first, we aggregate the UVVR across individual states and estuaries to quantify total vegetated wetland area for the nation. On the state level, Louisiana and Florida account for over 50% of the nation’s total, while on the estuarine level, the Chesapeake Bay Estuary and selected Louisiana coastal areas each account for over 6% of the nation’s total vegetated wetland area. Second, we present cases where this dataset can be used to track wetland change (e.g., expansion due to restoration and loss due to stressors). Lastly, we propose a classification methodology that delineates areas vulnerable to open-water expansion based on the 5-year mean and standard deviation of the UVVR. Calculating the UVVR for the period-of-record back to 1985, as well as regular updating, will fill a critical gap for tracking national status of salt marshes and other vegetated habitats through time and space.
  • Article
    Modeling the dynamics of salt marsh development in coastal land reclamation
    (American Geophysical Union, 2022-03-16) Xu, Yiyang ; Kalra, Tarandeep S. ; Ganju, Neil K. ; Fagherazzi, Sergio
    The valuable ecosystem services of salt marshes are spurring marsh restoration projects around the world. However, it is difficult to determine the final vegetated area based on physical drivers. Herein, we use a 3D fully coupled vegetation-hydrodynamic-morphological modeling system to simulate the final vegetation cover and the timescale to reach it under various forcing conditions. Marsh development in our simulations can be divided in three distinctive phases: A preparation phase characterized by sediment accumulation in the absence of vegetation, an encroachment phase in which the vegetated area grows, and an adjustment phase in which the vegetated area remains relatively constant while marsh accretes vertically to compensate for sea level rise. Sediment concentration, settling velocity, sea level rise, and tidal range each comparably affect equilibrium coverage and timescale in different ways. Our simulations show that the Unvegetated-Vegetated Ratio also relates to sediment budget in marsh development under most conditions.
  • Article
    Modeling of barrier breaching during hurricanes Sandy and Matthew
    (American Geophysical Union, 2022-01-26) Hegermiller, Christie A. ; Warner, John C. ; Olabarrieta, Maitane ; Sherwood, Christopher R. ; Kalra, Tarandeep S.
    Physical processes driving barrier island change during storms are important to understand to mitigate coastal hazards and to evaluate conceptual models for barrier evolution. Spatial variations in barrier island topography, landcover characteristics, and nearshore and back-barrier hydrodynamics can yield complex morphological change that requires models of increasing resolution and physical complexity to predict. Using the Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere-Wave-Sediment Transport (COAWST) modeling system, we investigated two barrier island breaches that occurred on Fire Island, NY during Hurricane Sandy (2012) and at Matanzas, FL during Hurricane Matthew (2016). The model employed a recently implemented infragravity (IG) wave driver to represent the important effects of IG waves on nearshore water levels and sediment transport. The model simulated breaching and other changes with good skill at both locations, resolving differences in the processes and evolution. The breach simulated at Fire Island was 250 m west of the observed breach, whereas the breach simulated at Matanzas was within 100 m of the observed breach. Implementation of the vegetation module of COAWST to allow three-dimensional drag over dune vegetation at Fire Island improved model skill by decreasing flows across the back-barrier, as opposed to varying bottom roughness that did not positively alter model response. Analysis of breach processes at Matanzas indicated that both far-field and local hydrodynamics influenced breach creation and evolution, including remotely generated waves and surge, but also surge propagation through back-barrier waterways. This work underscores the importance of resolving the complexity of nearshore and back-barrier systems when predicting barrier island change during extreme events.
  • Article
    Shoaling wave shape estimates from field observations and derived bedload sediment rates
    (MDPI, 2022-02-08) Kalra, Tarandeep S. ; Suttles, Steven E. ; Sherwood, Christopher R. ; Warner, John C. ; Aretxabaleta, Alfredo L. ; Leavitt, Gibson R.
    he shoaling transformation from generally linear deep-water waves to asymmetric shallow-water waves modifies wave shapes and causes near-bed orbital velocities to become asymmetrical, contributing to net sediment transport. In this work, we used two methods to estimate the asymmetric wave shape from data at three sites. The first method converted wave measurements made at the surface to idealized near-bottom wave-orbital velocities using a set of empirical equations: the “parameterized” waveforms. The second method involved direct measurements of velocities and pressure made near the seabed: the “direct” waveforms. Estimates from the two methods were well correlated at all three sites (Pearson’s correlation coefficient greater than 0.85). Both methods were used to drive bedload-transport calculations that accounted for asymmetric waves, and the results were compared with a traditional excess-stress formulation and field estimates of bedload transport derived from ripple migration rates based on sonar imagery. The cumulative bedload transport from the parameterized waveform was 25% greater than the direct waveform, mainly because the parameterized waveform did not account for negative skewness. Calculated transport rates were comparable to rates estimated from ripple migration except during the largest event, when calculated rates were as much as 100 times greater, which occurred during high period waves.
  • Article
    Modeling the morphodynamics of coastal responses to extreme events: what shape are we in?
    (Annual Reviews, 2021-07-27) Sherwood, Christopher R. ; van Dongeren, Ap ; Doyle, James D. ; Hegermiller, Christie A. ; Hsu, Tian-Jian ; Kalra, Tarandeep S. ; Olabarrieta, Maitane ; Penko, Allison M. ; Rafati, Yashar ; Roelvink, Dano ; van der Lugt, Marlies ; Veeramony, Jay ; Warner, John C.
    This review focuses on recent advances in process-based numerical models of the impact of extreme storms on sandy coasts. Driven by larger-scale models of meteorology and hydrodynamics, these models simulate morphodynamics across the Sallenger storm-impact scale, including swash,collision, overwash, and inundation. Models are becoming both wider (as more processes are added) and deeper (as detailed physics replaces earlier parameterizations). Algorithms for wave-induced flows and sediment transport under shoaling waves are among the recent developments. Community and open-source models have become the norm. Observations of initial conditions (topography, land cover, and sediment characteristics) have become more detailed, and improvements in tropical cyclone and wave models provide forcing (winds, waves, surge, and upland flow) that is better resolved and more accurate, yielding commensurate improvements in model skill. We foresee that future storm-impact models will increasingly resolve individual waves, apply data assimilation, and be used in ensemble modeling modes to predict uncertainties.
  • Article
    How much marsh restoration is enough to deliver wave attenuation coastal protection benefits?
    (Frontiers Media, 2022-02-07) Castagno, Katherine ; Ganju, Neil K. ; Beck, Michael W. ; Bowden, Alison A. ; Scyphers, Steven B.
    As coastal communities grow more vulnerable to sea-level rise and increased storminess, communities have turned to nature-based solutions to bolster coastal resilience and protection. Marshes have significant wave attenuation properties and can play an important role in coastal protection for many communities. Many restoration projects seek to maximize this ecosystem service but how much marsh restoration is enough to deliver measurable coastal protection benefits is still unknown. This question is critical to guiding assessments of cost effectiveness and for funding, implementation, and optimizing of marsh restoration for risk reduction projects. This study uses SWAN model simulations to determine empirical relationships between wave attenuation and marsh vegetation. The model runs consider several different common marsh morphologies (including systems with channels, ponds, and fringing mudflats), vegetation placement, and simulated storm intensity. Up to a 95% reduction in wave energy is seen at as low as 50% vegetation cover. Although these empirical relationships between vegetative cover and wave attenuation provide essential insight for marsh restoration, it is also important to factor in lifespan estimates of restored marshes when making overall restoration decisions. The results of this study are important for coastal practitioners and managers seeking performance goals and metrics for marsh restoration, enhancement, and creation.
  • Article
    Impact of SST and surface waves on Hurricane Florence (2018): a coupled modeling investigation
    (American Meteorological Society, 2021-09-02) Zambon, Joseph B. ; He, Ruoying ; Warner, John C. ; Hegermiller, Christie A.
    Hurricane Florence (2018) devastated the coastal communities of the Carolinas through heavy rainfall that resulted in massive flooding. Florence was characterized by an abrupt reduction in intensity (Saffir–Simpson category 4 to category 1) just prior to landfall and synoptic-scale interactions that stalled the storm over the Carolinas for several days. We conducted a series of numerical modeling experiments in coupled and uncoupled configurations to examine the impact of sea surface temperature (SST) and ocean waves on storm characteristics. In addition to experiments using a fully coupled atmosphere–ocean–wave model, we introduced the capability of the atmospheric model to modulate wind stress and surface fluxes by ocean waves through data from an uncoupled wave model. We examined these experiments by comparing track, intensity, strength, SST, storm structure, wave height, surface roughness, heat fluxes, and precipitation in order to determine the impacts of resolving ocean conditions with varying degrees of coupling. We found differences in the storm’s intensity and strength, with the best correlation coefficient of intensity (r = 0.89) and strength (r = 0.95) coming from the fully coupled simulations. Further analysis into surface roughness parameterizations added to the atmospheric model revealed differences in the spatial distribution and magnitude of the largest roughness lengths. Adding ocean and wave features to the model further modified the fluxes due to more realistic cooling beneath the storm, which in turn modified the precipitation field. Our experiments highlight significant differences in how air–sea processes impact hurricane modeling. The storm characteristics of track, intensity, strength, and precipitation at landfall are crucial to predictability and forecasting of future landfalling hurricanes.
  • Article
    Primary deposition and early diagenetic effects on the high saturation accumulation of gas hydrate in a silt dominated reservoir in the Gulf of Mexico
    (Elsevier, 2022-01-06) Johnson, Joel E. ; MacLeod, Douglas R. ; Phillips, Stephen C. ; Phillips, Marcie Purkey ; Divins, David L.
    On continental margins, high saturation gas hydrate systems (>60% pore volume) are common in canyon and channel environments within the gas hydrate stability zone, where reservoirs are dominated by coarse-grained, high porosity sand deposits. Recent studies, including the results presented here, suggest that rapidly deposited, silt-dominated channel-levee environments can also host high saturation gas hydrate accumulations. Here we present several sedimentological data sets, including sediment composition, biostratigraphic age from calcareous nannofossils, grain size, total organic carbon (TOC), C/N elemental ratio, δ13C-TOC, CaCO3, total sulfur (TS), and δ34S-TS from sediments collected with pressure cores from a gas hydrate rich, turbidite channel-levee system in the Gulf of Mexico during the 2017 UT-GOM2-1 Hydrate Pressure Coring Expedition. Our results indicate the reservoir is composed of three main lithofacies, which have distinct sediment grain size distributions (type A-silty clay to clayey silt, type B-clayey silt, and type C-sandy silt to silty sand) that are characteristic of variable turbidity current energy regimes within a Pleistocene (< 0.91 Ma) channel-levee environment. We document that the TOC in the sediments of the reservoir is terrestrial in origin and contained within the fine fraction of each lithofacies, while the CaCO3 fraction is composed of primarily reworked grains, including Cretaceous calcareous nannofossils, and part of the detrital load. The lack of biogenic grains within the finest grained sediment intervals throughout the reservoir suggests interevent hemipelagic sediments are not preserved, resulting in a reservoir sequence of silt dominated, stacked turbidites. We observe two zones of enhanced TS at the top and bottom of the reservoir that correspond with enriched bulk sediment δ34S, indicating stalled or slowly advancing paleo-sulfate-methane transition zone (SMTZ) positions likely driven by relative decreases in sedimentation rate. Despite these two diagenetic zones, the low abundance of diagenetic precipitates throughout the reservoir allowed the primary porosity to remain largely intact, thus better preserving primary porosity for subsequent pore-filling gas hydrate. In canyon, channel, and levee environments, early diagenesis may be regulated via sedimentation rates, where high rates result in rapid progression through the SMTZ and minimal diagenetic mineralization and low rates result in the stalling of the SMTZ, enhancing diagenetic mineralization. Here, we observed some enhanced pyritization to implicate potential sedimentation rate changes, but not enough to consume primary porosity, resulting in a high saturation gas hydrate reservoir. These results emphasize the important implications of sedimentary processes, sedimentation rates, and early diagenesis on the distribution of gas hydrate in marine sediments along continental margins.
  • Article
    Modeling marsh dynamics using a 3-D coupled wave-flow-sediment model
    (Frontiers Media, 2021-11-02) Kalra, Tarandeep S. ; Ganju, Neil K. ; Aretxabaleta, Alfredo L. ; Carr, Joel A. ; Defne, Zafer ; Moriarty, Julia M.
    Salt marshes are dynamic biogeomorphic systems that respond to external physical factors, including tides, sediment transport, and waves, as well as internal processes such as autochthonous soil formation. Predicting the fate of marshes requires a modeling framework that accounts for these processes in a coupled fashion. In this study, we implement two new marsh dynamic processes in the 3-D COAWST (coupled-ocean-atmosphere-wave sediment transport) model. The processes added are the erosion of the marsh edge scarp caused by lateral wave thrust from surface waves and vertical accretion driven by biomass production on the marsh platform. The sediment released from the marsh during edge erosion causes a change in bathymetry, thereby modifying the wave-energy reaching the marsh edge. Marsh vertical accretion due to biomass production is considered for a single vegetation species and is determined by the hydroperiod parameters (tidal datums) and the elevation of the marsh cells. Tidal datums are stored at user-defined intervals as a hindcast (on the order of days) and used to update the vertical growth formulation. Idealized domains are utilized to verify the lateral wave thrust formulation and show the dynamics of lateral wave erosion leading to horizontal retreat of marsh edge. The simulations of Reedy and Dinner Creeks within the Barnegat Bay estuary system demonstrate the model capability to account for both lateral wave erosion and vertical accretion due to biomass production in a realistic marsh complex. The simulations show that vertical accretion is dominated by organic deposition in the marsh interior, whereas deposition of mineral estuarine sediments occurs predominantly along the channel edges. The ability of the model to capture the fate of the sediment can be extended to model to simulate the impacts of future storms and relative sea-level rise (RSLR) scenarios on salt-marsh ecomorphodynamics.
  • Article
    Isolating detrital and diagenetic signals in magnetic susceptibility records from methane-bearing marine sediments
    (American Geophysical Union, 2021-09-12) Johnson, Joel E. ; Phillips, Stephen C. ; Clyde, William C. ; Giosan, Liviu ; Torres, Marta E.
    Volume-dependent magnetic susceptibility (κ) is commonly used for paleoenvironmental reconstructions in both terrestrial and marine sedimentary environments where it reflects a mixed signal between primary deposition and secondary diagenesis. In the marine environment, κ is strongly influenced by the abundance of ferrimagnetic minerals regulated by sediment transport processes. Post-depositional alteration by H2S, however, can dissolve titanomagnetite, releasing reactive Fe that promotes pyritization and subsequently decreases κ. Here, we provide a new approach for isolating the detrital signal in κ and identifying intervals of diagenetic alteration of κ driven by organoclastic sulfate reduction (OSR) and the anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) in methane-bearing marine sediments offshore India. Using the correlation of a heavy mineral proxy from X-ray fluorescence data (Zr/Rb) and κ in unaltered sediments, we predict the primary detrital κ signal and identify intervals of decreased κ, which correspond to increased total sulfur content. Our approach is a rapid, high-resolution method that can identify overprinted κ resulting from pyritization of titanomagnetite due to H2S production in marine sediments. In addition, total organic carbon, total sulfur, and authigenic carbonate δ13C measurements indicate that both OSR and AOM can drive the observed κ loss, but AOM drives the greatest decreases in κ. Overall, our approach can enhance paleoenvironmental reconstructions and provide insight into paleo-positions of the sulfate-methane transition zone, past enhancements of OSR or paleo-methane seepage, and the role of detrital iron oxide minerals on the marine sediment sulfur sink, with consequences influencing the development of chemosynthetic biological communities at methane seeps.
  • Article
    Cohesive sediment modeling in a shallow estuary: model and environmental implications of sediment parameter variation
    (American Geophysical Union, 2021-08-20) Allen, Rachel M. ; Lacy, Jessica R. ; Stevens, Andrew W.
    Numerical models of sediment transport in estuarine systems rely on parameter values that are often poorly constrained and can vary on timescales relevant to model processes. The selection of parameter values can affect the accuracy of model predictions, while environmental variation of these parameters can impact the temporal and spatial ranges of sediment fluxes, erosion, and deposition in the real world. We implemented a numerical model of San Pablo Bay, an embayment within San Francisco Bay, California, for November–December 2014, and compared model outputs to observations of water level, velocity, wave parameters, salinity, and suspended sediment concentration (SSC) in the shallow regions. Idealized model runs show that wind timing relative to the phase of the tides is the strongest control on sediment fluxes and bed erosion. We varied sediment erodibility in the outflow of the Petaluma River; while this causes erosion and deposition to vary strongly through the shallows system, total export from the shallows does not change. Model runs with realistic winds show that wind likely resuspends faster settling particles or allows for more particle flocculation; particle settling velocity controls system-wide sediment accumulation. At the margins of the system, the magnitude of SSC is closely tied to wind direction when winds occur during flood tide, but sediment deposition is less connected: Both bed evolution and SSC need to be considered in the prediction of marsh fate. Spatial patterns of light attenuation due to SSC is strongly tied to assumed settling velocity.
  • Article
    Quantifying slopes as a driver of forest to marsh conversion using geospatial techniques: application to Chesapeake Bay coastal-plain, United States
    (Frontiers Media, 2021-03-17) Molino, Grace D. ; Defne, Zafer ; Aretxabaleta, Alfredo L. ; Ganju, Neil K. ; Carr, Joel A.
    Coastal salt marshes, which provide valuable ecosystem services such as flood mitigation and carbon sequestration, are threatened by rising sea level. In response, these ecosystems migrate landward, converting available upland into salt marsh. In the coastal-plain surrounding Chesapeake Bay, United States, conversion of coastal forest to salt marsh is well-documented and may offset salt marsh loss due to sea level rise, sediment deficits, and wave erosion. Land slope at the marsh-forest boundary is an important factor determining migration likelihood, however, the standard method of using field measurements to assess slope across the marsh-forest boundary is impractical on the scale of an estuary. Therefore, we developed a general slope quantification method that uses high resolution elevation data and a repurposed shoreline analysis tool to determine slope along the marsh-forest boundary for the entire Chesapeake Bay coastal-plain and find that less than 3% of transects have a slope value less than 1%; these low slope environments offer more favorable conditions for forest to marsh conversion. Then, we combine the bay-wide slope and elevation data with inundation modeling from Hurricane Isabel to determine likelihood of coastal forest conversion to salt marsh. This method can be applied to local and estuary-scale research to support management decisions regarding which upland forested areas are more critical to preserve as available space for marsh migration.
  • Article
    Using tracer variance decay to quantify variability of salinity mixing in the Hudson River Estuary
    (American Geophysical Union, 2020-11-12) Warner, John C. ; Geyer, W. Rockwell ; Ralston, David K. ; Kalra, Tarandeep S.
    The salinity structure in an estuary is controlled by time‐dependent mixing processes. However, the locations and temporal variability of where significant mixing occurs is not well‐understood. Here we utilize a tracer variance approach to demonstrate the spatial and temporal structure of salinity mixing in the Hudson River Estuary. We run a 4‐month hydrodynamic simulation of the tides, currents, and salinity that captures the spring‐neap tidal variability as well as wind‐driven and freshwater flow events. On a spring‐neap time scale, salinity variance dissipation (mixing) occurs predominantly during the transition from neap to spring tides. On a tidal time scale, 60% of the salinity variance dissipation occurs during ebb tides and 40% during flood tides. Spatially, mixing during ebbs occurs primarily where lateral bottom salinity fronts intersect the bed at the transition from the main channel to adjacent shoals. During ebbs, these lateral fronts form seaward of constrictions located at multiple locations along the estuary. During floods, mixing is generated by a shear layer elevated in the water column at the top of the mixed bottom boundary layer, where variations in the along channel density gradients locally enhance the baroclinic pressure gradient leading to stronger vertical shear and more mixing. For both ebb and flood, the mixing occurs at the location of overlap of strong vertical stratification and eddy diffusivity, not at the maximum of either of those quantities. This understanding lends a new insight to the spatial and time dependence of the estuarine salinity structure.
  • Article
    Dynamics of marsh-derived sediments in lagoon-type estuaries
    (American Geophysical Union, 2020-10-13) Donatelli, Carmine ; Kalra, Tarandeep S. ; Fagherazzi, Sergio ; Zhang, Xiaohe ; Leonardi, Nicoletta
    Salt marshes are valuable ecosystems that must trap sediments and accrete in order to counteract the deleterious effect of sea level rise. Previous studies have shown that the capacity of marshes to build up vertically depends on both autogenous and exogenous processes including ecogeomorphic feedbacks and sediment supply from in‐land and coastal ocean. There have been numerous efforts to quantify the role played by the sediments coming from marsh edge erosion on the resistance of salt marshes to sea level rise. However, the majority of existing studies investigating the interplay between lateral and vertical dynamics use simplified modeling approaches, and they do not consider that marsh retreat can affect the regional‐scale hydrodynamics and sediment retention in back‐barrier basins. In this study, we evaluated the fate of the sediments originating from marsh lateral loss by using high‐resolution numerical model simulations of Jamaica Bay, a small lagoonal estuary located in New York City. Our findings show that up to 42% of the sediment released during marsh edge erosion deposits on the shallow areas of the basin and over the vegetated marsh platforms, contributing positively to the sediment budget of the remaining salt marshes. Furthermore, we demonstrate that with the present‐day sediment supply from the ocean, the system cannot keep pace with sea level rise even accounting for the sediment liberated in the bay through marsh degradation. Our study highlights the relevance of multiple sediment sources for the maintenance of the marsh complex.
  • Article
    Development of a submerged aquatic vegetation growth model in the coupled ocean-atmosphere-wave-sediment transport (COAWST v3.4) model
    (European Geosciences Union, 2020-11-02) Kalra, Tarandeep S. ; Ganju, Neil K. ; Testa, Jeremy M.
    The coupled biophysical interactions between submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), hydrodynamics (currents and waves), sediment dynamics, and nutrient cycling have long been of interest in estuarine environments. Recent observational studies have addressed feedbacks between SAV meadows and their role in modifying current velocity, sedimentation, and nutrient cycling. To represent these dynamic processes in a numerical model, the presence of SAV and its effect on hydrodynamics (currents and waves) and sediment dynamics was incorporated into the open-source Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere–Wave–Sediment Transport (COAWST) model. In this study, we extend the COAWST modeling framework to account for dynamic changes of SAV and associated epiphyte biomass. Modeled SAV biomass is represented as a function of temperature, light, and nutrient availability. The modeled SAV community exchanges nutrients, detritus, dissolved inorganic carbon, and dissolved oxygen with the water-column biogeochemistry model. The dynamic simulation of SAV biomass allows the plants to both respond to and cause changes in the water column and sediment bed properties, hydrodynamics, and sediment transport (i.e., a two-way feedback). We demonstrate the behavior of these modeled processes through application to an idealized domain and then apply the model to a eutrophic harbor where SAV dieback is a result of anthropogenic nitrate loading and eutrophication. These cases demonstrate an advance in the deterministic modeling of coupled biophysical processes and will further our understanding of future ecosystem change.
  • Article
    Sediment dynamics of a divergent bay-marsh complex
    (Springer Nature, 2020-11-17) Nowacki, Daniel J. ; Ganju, Neil K.
    Bay–marsh systems, composed of an embayment surrounded by fringing marsh incised by tidal channels, are widely distributed coastal environments. External sediment availability, marsh-edge erosion, and sea-level rise acting on such bay–marsh complexes may drive diverse sediment-flux regimes. These factors reinforce the ephemeral and dynamic nature of fringing marshes: material released by marsh-edge erosion becomes part of a bay–marsh exchange that fuels the geomorphic evolution of the coupled system. The dynamics of this sediment exchange determine the balance among seaward export, deposition on the embayment seabed, flux into tidal channels, and import to the marsh platform. In this work, we investigate the sediment dynamics of a transgressive bay–marsh complex and link them to larger-scale considerations of its geomorphic trajectory. Grand Bay, Alabama/Mississippi, is a shallow microtidal embayment surrounded by salt marshes with lateral erosion rates of up to 5 m year−1. We collected 6 months of oceanographic data at four moorings within Grand Bay and its tidal channels to assess hydrographic conditions and net sediment-flux patterns and augmented the observations with numerical modeling. The observations imply a divergent sedimentary system in which a majority of the suspended sediment is exported seaward, while a smaller fraction is imported landward via tidal channels, assisting in vertical marsh-plain accumulation, maintenance of channel and intertidal-flat morphologies, and landward transgression. These results describe a dynamic system that is responsive to episodic atmospheric forcing in the absence of a strong tidal signal and the presence of severe lateral marsh loss.