Predicting marsh vulnerability to sea-level rise using Holocene relative sea-level data

Benjamin P. Horton*, Ian Shennan, Sarah L. Bradley, Niamh Cahill, Matthew Kirwan, Robert E. Kopp, Timothy A. Shaw

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Tidal marshes rank among Earth's vulnerable ecosystems, which will retreat if future rates of relative sea-level rise (RSLR) exceed marshes' ability to accrete vertically. Here, we assess the limits to marsh vulnerability by analyzing >780 Holocene reconstructions of tidal marsh evolution in Great Britain. These reconstructions include both transgressive (tidal marsh retreat) and regressive (tidal marsh expansion) contacts. The probability of a marsh retreat was conditional upon Holocene rates of RSLR, which varied between -7.7 and 15.2 mm/yr. Holocene records indicate that marshes are nine times more likely to retreat than expand when RSLR rates are ≥7.1 mm/yr. Coupling estimated probabilities of marsh retreat with projections of future RSLR suggests a major risk of tidal marsh loss in the twenty-first century. All of Great Britain has a >80% probability of a marsh retreat under Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 by 2100, with areas of southern and eastern England achieving this probability by 2040.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2687
Number of pages7
JournalNature Communications
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Predicting marsh vulnerability to sea-level rise using Holocene relative sea-level data'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this