Salt marshes are important coastal habitats and provide ecosystem services to surrounding communities. They are, however, threatened by accelerating sea-level rise and sediment deprivation due to human activity within upstream catchments, which result in their drowning and a reduction in their extent. Rising seas are also leading to an expansion of coastal flooding protection infrastructures, which might also represent another serious if poorly understood threat to salt marshes due to effects on the resuspension and accumulation of sediment during storms. Here, we use observations from the Venice Lagoon (Italy), a back-barrier system with no fluvial sediment input recently protected by storm-surge barriers, to show that most of the salt-marsh sedimentation (more than 70% in this case) occurs due to sediment reworking during storm surges. We also prove that the large, yet episodic storm-driven sediment supply is seriously reduced by operations of storm-surge barriers, revealing a critical competition between the objectives of protection against coastal flooding and preservation of natural ecosystems. Without complementary interventions and management policies that reduce barrier activations, the survival of coastal wetlands is even more uncertain.

Marsh resilience to sea-level rise reduced by storm-surge barriers in the Venice Lagoon

Tognin, Davide
;
D’Alpaos, Andrea;Marani, Marco;Carniello, Luca
2021

Abstract

Salt marshes are important coastal habitats and provide ecosystem services to surrounding communities. They are, however, threatened by accelerating sea-level rise and sediment deprivation due to human activity within upstream catchments, which result in their drowning and a reduction in their extent. Rising seas are also leading to an expansion of coastal flooding protection infrastructures, which might also represent another serious if poorly understood threat to salt marshes due to effects on the resuspension and accumulation of sediment during storms. Here, we use observations from the Venice Lagoon (Italy), a back-barrier system with no fluvial sediment input recently protected by storm-surge barriers, to show that most of the salt-marsh sedimentation (more than 70% in this case) occurs due to sediment reworking during storm surges. We also prove that the large, yet episodic storm-driven sediment supply is seriously reduced by operations of storm-surge barriers, revealing a critical competition between the objectives of protection against coastal flooding and preservation of natural ecosystems. Without complementary interventions and management policies that reduce barrier activations, the survival of coastal wetlands is even more uncertain.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11577/3410666
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