Salt Marsh Sustainability: Challenges During an Uncertain Future

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Many salt marshes throughout southern New England are exhibiting a trend toward submergence, as reported in this volume and other published literature. This paper provides a brief perspective on sea-level rise and the many other interacting factors that contribute to marsh submergence in this and other regions. Curtailing nutrient loading and removing or altering barriers (e.g., dams, dikes) to the delivery of suspended sediment to marshes are discussed as management or restoration techniques to consider for increasing long-term sustainability of marshes. Adaptation measures are many (e.g., thin-layer sediment application to marsh surface, facilitation of landward marsh migration, shoreline stabilization), but all require study to evaluate their potential for enhancing resilience. Research, monitoring, and dynamic modeling, coupled with appropriate management and adaptation approaches implemented at local and regional scales, will contribute to the challenge of sustaining salt marshes in an uncertain future of sea-level rise, other climate factors, and stressors associated with a developing coastal zone.

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Estuaries and Coasts