Salt marshes face chronic anthropogenic impacts such as relative sea level rise and eutrophication, as well as acute disturbances from tropical storms that can affect the productivity of these important communities. However, it is not well understood how marshes already subjected to eutrophication and sea level rise will respond to added effects of episodic storms such as hurricanes. We examined the interactive effects of nutrient addition, sea level rise, and a hurricane on the growth, biomass accumulation, and resilience of the saltmarsh cordgrass Spartina alterniflora in the Gulf of Mexico. In a microtidal marsh, we manipulated nutrient levels and submergence using marsh organs in which cordgrasses were planted at differing intertidal elevations and measured the impacts of Hurricane Isaac, which occurred during the experiment. Prior to the hurricane, grasses at intermediate and high elevations increased in abundance. After the hurricane, all treatments lost approximately 50% of their shoots, demonstrating that added nutrients and elevation did not provide resistance to hurricane disturbance. At the end of the experiment, only the highest elevations had been resilient to the hurricane, with increased above- and belowground growth. Added nutrients provided a modest increase in above- and belowground growth, but only at the highest elevations, suggesting that only elevation will enhance resilience to hurricane disturbance. These results empirically demonstrate that S. alterniflora in microtidal locations already subjected to submergence stress is less able to recover from storm disturbance and suggests we may be underestimating the loss of northern Gulf Coast marshes due to relative sea level rise.
Assessing flood risk and detecting changes of salt water inflow in a coastal micro-tidal brackish marsh using GISIn order to assess changes in salt water inflow and potential flood risks due to sea level rise in a micro-tidal Beka brackish marsh on the Polish Baltic Coast GIS was used. Such wetlands are important elements of coastal zone natural environments. Creating a geodatabase within a GIS system makes it possible to carry out broad analyses of complex systems, such as coastal wetlands. The results indicate that a 40 cm sea-level rise would considerably increase the frequency of flooding in the investigated area, in part because of the small range of the annual sea level oscillations there. A map of the index of changes in saltwater inflow, created with the help of cost-weighted distance (functions), shows that changes which have occurred along the shore, consisting of filling in the drainage channel outlets, have likely had a significant impact on the vegetation of the area.