May 08

Publication | The dynamic effects of sea level rise on low gradient coastal landscapes: a review

SLR_EnchroachD.L. Passeri, S.C. Hagen, S.C. Medeiros, M.V. Bilskie, K. Alizad, D. Wang (2015). “The dynamic effects of sea level rise on low gradient coastal landscapes: a review.” AGU Earth’s Future, doi:10.1002/2015EF000298

Abstract: Coastal responses to sea level rise (SLR) include inundation of wetlands, increased shoreline erosion, and increased flooding during storm events. Hydrodynamic parameters such as tidal ranges, tidal prisms, tidal asymmetries, increased flooding depths and inundation extents during storm events respond non-additively to SLR. Coastal morphology continually adapts towards equilibrium as sea levels rise, inducing changes in the landscape. Marshes may struggle to keep pace with SLR and rely on sediment accumulation and the availability of suitable uplands for migration. Whether hydrodynamic, morphologic or ecologic, the impacts of SLR are interrelated. To plan for changes under future sea levels, coastal managers need information and data regarding the potential effects of SLR to make informed decisions for managing human and natural communities. This review examines previous studies that have accounted for the dynamic, nonlinear responses of hydrodynamics, coastal morphology and marsh ecology to SLR by implementing more complex approaches rather than the simplistic “bathtub” approach. These studies provide an improved understanding of the dynamic effects of SLR on coastal environments and contribute to an overall paradigm shift in how coastal scientists and engineers approach modeling the effects of SLR, transitioning away from implementing the “bathtub” approach. However, it is recommended that future studies implement a synergetic approach that integrates the dynamic interactions between physical and ecological environments to better predict the impacts of SLR on coastal systems.

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