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Chuck Hopkinson to Present Research on Plum Island Erosion at CERF

Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 3:57pm

"CERF advances understanding and wise stewardship of estuarine and coastal ecosystems worldwide. 
Our mission is to promote research in estuarine and coastal ecosystems, support the education of scientists, decision-makers and the public, and facilitate communication among these groups." - Coastal & Estuarine Research Federation mission statement

Chuck Hopkinson is going to present his research at the 2017 CERF Conference. Here is a summary of his talk from the man himself:

"The sources of sediment contributing to salt marsh elevation gain were quantified for the Plum Island Sound estuary in northeastern Massachusetts, USA. We took a mass balance approach where the marsh requirement for mineral sediment and organic matter was compared to measures of watershed inputs and erosion of marsh shorelines. The imbalance was attributed to either re-suspended sediments from tidal flats or oceanic inputs of sediment. Results show that because of limited sediment supply and sea-level rise, the marsh platform maintains elevation at the expense of total marsh area and perhaps tidal flats. Thus the marsh may be more resilient than bay bottoms and tidal flats. At current rates of erosion, 50% of Plum Island intertidal wetlands will be lost over the next 1000 years and even sooner if rates of sea-level rise increase and tidal flats are the major source of sediment maintaining platform elevation. 

The picture shows how we measured erosion from the comparison of 2005 and 2011 LIDAR measures of marsh elevation. We examined erosion of just the marsh edge. The marsh edge was defined as the 1 m contour and therefore in 2005 all land within that 10m wide zone around the edge of the marsh was higher than 1 m. Land from that zone that eroded during the 2005-2011 interval had an elevation lower than 1 m. We could then measure the area and volume of marsh sediment lost during that interval. Note the clear delineation of marsh edge from along the side of Plum Island Sound (large blue area to the right) and along tidal creeks and even mosquito ditches (the thin, straight water bodies)."

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