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Salt marsh surface survives true-to-scale simulated storm surges

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Möller, I 
Rupprecht, F 
Bouma, TJ 
van Wesenbeeck, BK 


jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pA full‐scale controlled experiment was conducted on an excavated and re‐assembled coastal wetland surface, typical of floristically diverse northwest <jats:styled-content style="fixed-case">European</jats:styled-content> saltmarsh. The experiment was undertaken with true‐to‐scale water depths and waves in a large wave flume, in order to assess the impact of storm surge conditions on marsh surface soils, initially with three different plant species and then when this marsh canopy had been mowed. The data presented suggests a high bio‐geomorphological resilience of salt marshes to vertical sediment removal, with less than 0.6 cm average vertical lowering in response to a sequence of simulated storm surge conditions. Both organic matter content and plant species exerted an important influence on both the variability and degree of soil surface stability, with surfaces covered by a flattened canopy of the salt marsh grass jats:italicPuccinellia</jats:italic> experiencing a lower and less variable elevation loss than those characterized by jats:italicElymus</jats:italic> or jats:italicAtriplex</jats:italic> that exhibited considerable physical damage through stem folding and breakage. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.</jats:p>



coastal wetland, surface elevation change, wetland soil stability, wave energy dissipation, wave flume experiment

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Earth Surface Processes and Landforms

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European Commission (261520)
Isaac Newton Trust (1135(s))
We thank all of the support staff at the Grosser Wellenkanal; Ben Evans, James Tempest, Kostas Milonidis, Chris Rolfe and Colin Edwards, Cambridge University; and Dennis Schulze, Hamburg University, for their in valuable logistical assistance. Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge supported the research time of IM. The work described in this publication was supported by the European Community’s 7th Framework Programme (Integrating Activity HYDRALAB IV, Contract No. 261529) and by a grant from The Isaac Newton Trust, Trinity College, Cambridge. We thank Mark Schuerch, Kiel University, for helpful insights into storm surge flooding on Sylt, Germany Wadden Sea. The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.