Publication Abstracts

Peteet et al. 2018

Peteet, D.M., J. Nichols, T. Kenna, C. Chang, J. Browne, M. Reza, S. Kovari, L. Liberman, and S. Stern-Protz, 2018: Sediment starvation destroys New York City marshes' resistance to sea level rise. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 115, no. 41, 10281-10286, doi:10.1073/pnas.1715392115.

Worldwide, coastal marshes are facing extreme impacts, including urban encroachment, pollution, upriver dams, and sea level rise. Our research provides a method of sediment history reconstruction to understand the role of plant/animal (organic) and mineral (inorganic) matter in their growth and maintenance, including the effects of humans on the sediment burial. We find that, due to urbanization, these marshes have experienced a remarkable loss of mineral sediment and increase in organic sediment, significantly enhancing the risk of marsh loss with sea level rise by making them structurally weak. Future resilience depends upon active enrichment of mineral sediment in both borrow pits and marshes, ensuring the marshes outpace sea level rise, provide wildlife habitat, and retain polluted sediments beneath them.New York City (NYC) is representative of many vulnerable coastal urban populations, infrastructures, and economies threatened by global sea level rise. The steady loss of marshes in NYC's Jamaica Bay is typical of many urban estuaries worldwide. Essential to the restoration and preservation of these key wetlands is an understanding of their sedimentation. Here we present a reconstruction of the history of mineral and organic sediment fluxes in Jamaica Bay marshes over three centuries, using a combination of density measurements and a detailed accretion model. Accretion rate is calculated using historical land use and pollution markers, through a wide variety of sediment core analyses including geochemical, isotopic, and paleobotanical analyses. We find that, since 1800 CE, urban development dramatically reduced the input of marsh-stabilizing mineral sediment. However, as mineral flux decreased, organic matter flux increased. While this organic accumulation increase allowed vertical accumulation to outpace sea level, reduced mineral content causes structural weakness and edge failure. Marsh integrity now requires mineral sediment addition to both marshes and subsurface channels and borrow pits, a solution applicable to drowning estuaries worldwide. Integration of marsh mineral/organic accretion history with modeling provides parameters for marsh preservation at specific locales with sea level rise.

Export citation: [ BibTeX ] [ RIS ]

BibTeX Citation

  author={Peteet, D. M. and Nichols, J. and Kenna, T. and Chang, C. and Browne, J. and Reza, M. and Kovari, S. and Liberman, L. and Stern-Protz, S.},
  title={Sediment starvation destroys New York City marshes' resistance to sea level rise},
  journal={Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.},

[ Close ]

RIS Citation

ID  - pe01700t
AU  - Peteet, D. M.
AU  - Nichols, J.
AU  - Kenna, T.
AU  - Chang, C.
AU  - Browne, J.
AU  - Reza, M.
AU  - Kovari, S.
AU  - Liberman, L.
AU  - Stern-Protz, S.
PY  - 2018
TI  - Sediment starvation destroys New York City marshes' resistance to sea level rise
JA  - Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.
VL  - 115
IS  - 41
SP  - 10281
EP  - 10286
DO  - 10.1073/pnas.1715392115
ER  -

[ Close ]

• Return to 2018 Publications

• Return to Publications Homepage