Baranes Hannah E.
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ArticleSources, mechanisms, and timescales of sediment delivery to a New England salt marsh(American Geophysical Union, 2022-02-23) Baranes, Hannah E. ; Woodruff, Jonathan D. ; Geyer, W. Rockwell ; Yellen, Brian ; Richardson, Justin B. ; Griswold, Franceshe availability and delivery of an external clastic sediment source is a key factor in determining salt marsh resilience to future sea level rise. However, information on sources, mechanisms, and timescales of sediment delivery are lacking, particularly for wave-protected mesotidal estuaries. Here we show that marine sediment mobilized and delivered during coastal storms is a primary source to the North and South Rivers, a mesotidal bar-built estuary in a small river system impacted by frequent, moderate-intensity storms that is typical to New England (United States). On the marsh platform, deposition rates, clastic content, and dilution of fluvially-sourced contaminated sediment by marine material all increase down-estuary toward the inlet, consistent with a predominantly marine-derived sediment source. Marsh clastic deposition rates are also highest in the storm season. We observe that periods of elevated turbidity in channels and over the marsh are concurrent with storm surge and high wave activity offshore, rather than with high river discharge. Flood tide turbidity also exceeds ebb tide turbidity during storm events. Timescales of storm-driven marine sediment delivery range from 2.5 days to 2 weeks, depending on location within the estuary; therefore the phasing of storm surge and waves with the spring-neap cycle determines how effectively post-event suspended sediment is delivered to the marsh platform. This study reveals that sediment supply and the associated resilience of New England mesotidal salt marshes involves the interplay of coastal and estuarine processes, underscoring the importance of looking both up- and downstream to identify key drivers of environmental change.
ArticleSalt marsh response to inlet switch‐induced increases in tidal inundation(American Geophysical Union, 2022-12-22) Yellen, Brian ; Woodruff, Jonathan D. ; Baranes, Hannah E. ; Engelhart, Simon E. ; Geywer, W. Rockwell ; Randall, Noa ; Griswold, Frances R.There is widespread concern that rapidly rising sea levels may drown salt marshes by exceeding the rate at which these important ecosystems can build elevation. A significant fraction of marshes reside within backbarrier estuaries, yet little attention has been paid to how changes in inlet geometry influences estuarine tides and marshes. In 1898, a coastal storm eroded a new inlet through the barrier beach that fronts the North‐South Rivers Estuary in Massachusetts, USA. The new inlet shortened the North River by 5.6 km and lengthened the South River channel by the same amount. Modern measurements of tidal attenuation suggest that channel shortening abruptly increased mean high tide along the North River by at least 30 cm. Foraminifera communities within North River marsh sediments indicated an environmental change from infrequent to frequent inundation at the time of the 1898 switch in inlet location, which supports this hypothesis. Increased mineral sediment deposition after the inlet switch played a dominant role in allowing marshes along the North River channel to adjust to greater inundation. Following the inlet switch, sediment accreted in North River marshes at 2–5 times the rate of sea level rise (SLR). The North River channel widened by an average of 18% relative to pre‐1898 conditions to accommodate the increased tidal prism. The role of mineral sediment accretion in making this marsh resilient to an abrupt increase in inundation depth highlights the importance of maintaining adequate sediment supplies in coastal regions as SLR accelerates.