Research Areas

Coastal Wetlands and ASLR

Predicted accelerated sea-level rise (SLR) for the present century and beyond will have a significant effect on the existence anddistribution of coastal wetland habitats. Our research focuses on the collection of field data and the development and use of process-based salt-marsh and landscape models for studying the influence of the main physical drivers of wetland change, such astidal range, accommodation space, rate of SLR, storminess and variations of freshwater discharge on future wetland evolution. We aim to: (i) identify the main physical drivers of saltmarsh changes in our study areas, which include the Wadden Sea, the estuary of the Rio de la Platabetween the coasts of Argentina and Uruguay and the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas; (ii) calibrate and validate the models with field data from different study sites; (iii) estimate future salt-marsh development under different scenarios of SLR, storm activity, freshwater discharge, and coastal protection.

Particular emphasis is given to site-specific model calibration and validation. Among other data, we employ radioisotope measurements of salt-marsh cores as a means to obtain information on site-specific accretion rates and on the environmental conditions during which sedimentation takes place. Further, we investigate the local hydromorphological regimes in order to improve model performance and better understand how processes in the foreshore of marshes affect their accretion rates.