Salt marsh erosion rates and boundary features in a shallow Bay

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Date
2016-10-22
Authors
Leonardi, Nicoletta
Defne, Zafer
Ganju, Neil K.
Fagherazzi, Sergio
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10.1002/2016JF003975
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Keywords
Wind waves
Salt marsh
Fractal dimension
Erosion
Abstract
Herein, we investigate the relationship between wind waves, salt marsh erosion rates, and the planar shape of marsh boundaries by using aerial images and the numerical model Coupled-Ocean-Atmosphere-Wave-Sediment-Transport Modeling System (COAWST). Using Barnegat Bay, New Jersey, as a test site, we found that salt marsh erosion rates maintain a similar trend in time. We also found a significant relationship between salt marsh erosion rates and the shape of marsh boundaries which could be used as a geomorphic indicator of the degradation level of the marsh. Slowly eroding salt marshes are irregularly shaped with fractal dimension higher than rapidly deteriorating marshes. Moreover, for low-wave energy conditions, there is a high probability of isolated and significantly larger than average failures of marsh portions causing a long-tailed distribution of localized erosion rates. Finally, we confirm the existence of a significant relationship between salt marsh erosion rate and wind waves exposure. Results suggest that variations in time in the morphology of salt marsh boundaries could be used to infer changes in frequency and magnitude of external agents.
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Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2016. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 121 (2016): 1861–1875, doi:10.1002/2016JF003975.
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Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 121 (2016): 1861–1875
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