Salt Marsh Erosion in Coastal Areas of the United States, Australia, and Italy Seen to be Resulting from Frequent, Moderate Storms, according to Research Published in December 2015

Recently published research at eight salt marsh locations in the United States, Australia, and Italy indicates that most of the marsh erosion at those locations is due to wave action in frequent, moderate storm events (those that occur about every two to three months), rather than in rare, catastrophic storms, such as Superstorm Sandy along the eastern U.S. coast in 2012.   The findings are in research published in December 2015 by scientists at Boston University and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Woods Hole, Mass.

According to the study’s abstratct, the study’s result “clearly shows that long-term salt marsh deterioration is dictated by average wave conditions, and it is, therefore, predictable.  Violent storms and hurricanes contribute less than 1% to long-term salt marsh erosion rates.  This result is of high value for coastal restoration projects and the use of living shorelines to mitigate storms effect.”

The study is “A linear relationship between wave power and erosion determines salt-marsh resilience to violent storms and hurricanes,” by Nicoletta Leonardi, Neil K. Ganju, and Sergio Fagherazzi, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  A Dec. 21, 2015, USGS news release on the study is available online at this link.

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