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THE COASTAL PROTECTION FUNCTION OF SALT MARSHES: CONSIDERING BIO-PHYSICAL COMPLEXITY

Moeller, Iris

Presentation given at ASLO conference 2015 in Granada, Spain; Session organised by EU-FP7-SPACE FAST project

 

Abstract:

Coastal wetlands have provided a source of fascination for ecologists and geomorphologists alike. The study of the interplay between salt marsh vegetation growth, sedimentary processes and dynamic tidal and wave processes has led to a growing recognition of the importance of bio-physical factors determining coastal landform evolution. An increased focus on bio-physical linkages that control coastal wetland functioning can also be seen in the conservation, engineering, and policy sector, due to a rising awareness of the value of coastal wetlands due to the services they provide to society. The role of salt marshes as natural sea defences is increasingly significant in the context of ever increasing coastal population densities alongside environmental pressures (e.g. sea level rise and increasing storm frequencies arising from climate change, alongside ever increasing coastal population densities). This talk reviews how advances in field, laboratory, and numerical modeling approaches have made particular inroads into the quantification of the sea defence role of coastal wetlands. The sea defence function itself is complex and context dependent. There is now a need for improved ecologically-informed engineering solutions towards coastal defence.

 

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