Salt Marsh Response to Sea Level Rise

Salt marshes are an important part of barrier systems. The ability of salt marshes to keep pace with sea level rise is dependent on balances between rates of sediment accretion and subsidence, erosion and stabilization of slopes, as well as biomass and subsequent decomposition of organic matter. Broad scale processes such as change in sea level also affect the amount of incoming sediment and the ability of the salt marsh to incorporate sediment and continue to grow. As sea level continues to rise globally and coastal communities and ecosystems combat the adverse affects of the increasingly intruding tide, we wish to discover if salt marshes can keep pace with sea level rise. In 2017, multiples storms, including Hurricane Irma, made landfall on the eastern coasts of the United States. In my research, I will look at sediment from salt marshes in the geographic locations where Irma made landfall. Specifically, I seek to address the following scientific question: What thickness of sediment can be deposited on salt marshes by hurricane-related flooding, and how are salt marshes able to incorporate that sediment into their shallow stratigraphy?

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