Salt marsh surface survives true-to-scale simulated storm surges

T. Spencer*, I. Möller, F. Rupprecht, T. J. Bouma, B. K. van Wesenbeeck, M. Kudella, M. Paul, K. Jensen, G. Wolters, M. Miranda-Lange, S. Schimmels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


A full-scale controlled experiment was conducted on an excavated and re-assembled coastal wetland surface, typical of floristically diverse northwest European saltmarsh. The experiment was undertaken with true-to-scale water depths and waves in a large wave flume, in order to assess the impact of storm surge conditions on marsh surface soils, initially with three different plant species and then when this marsh canopy had been mowed. The data presented suggests a high bio-geomorphological resilience of salt marshes to vertical sediment removal, with less than 0.6cm average vertical lowering in response to a sequence of simulated storm surge conditions. Both organic matter content and plant species exerted an important influence on both the variability and degree of soil surface stability, with surfaces covered by a flattened canopy of the salt marsh grass Puccinellia experiencing a lower and less variable elevation loss than those characterized by Elymus or Atriplex that exhibited considerable physical damage through stem folding and breakage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-552
Number of pages10
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2016


  • Coastal wetland
  • Surface elevation change
  • Wave energy dissipation
  • Wave flume experiment
  • Wetland soil stability


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