Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2018NJ401B

Keeping up with Sea Level Rise: The Role of Vegetation in the Resilience of Tidal Marshes

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2018 Start Date: 2018-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $10,000

Principal Investigators: Johnny Quispe, JeanMarie Hartman

Abstract: Predicting survival of tidal marshes is of interest to coastal communities, conservationists, and scientists in order to predict impacts from Sea Level Rise (SLR), flooding, and future storms. Tidal marshes serve as primary protective barrier from storm surge and mitigate flooding caused by tides and storms. One of the main mechanisms that contributes to the survival of tidal marshes is marsh accretion. This process is facilitated by the plants growing on marshes. A challenge in predicting loss of tidal marshes is understanding the contributions from vegetation in maintaining elevation as sea level rises. Studies identify contributions from vegetation in sediment accretion processes in maintaining elevation and keeping up with SLR, but do not take vegetation type, density, and biomass into account. Including these variables may provide more detailed information about a marsh’s ability to keep up with SLR. I propose using an in situ approach to testing SLR impacts on tidal wetlands by using passive weirs using two SLR heights; 1.4ft and 2ft. Using passive weirs, I can mimic aspects of SLR such as increasing inundation depth at low tide, increasing inundation times, and alter drainage time. Accretion rates will be measured through the use of horizon markers and sediment plates and changes in hydrology will be measured through the use of water level loggers. .Results will provide local short-term rates of marsh accretion, probable rates of accretion along the Raritan River under two SLR scenarios, and identify contributions from vegetation type, density, and biomass in marsh accretion.