Future Response of Global Coastal Wetlands to Sea-level Rise

September 2018 |
Nature: International journal of science
Mark Schuerch, Tom Spencer, Stijn Temmerman

The paper Future Response of Global Coastal Wetlands to Sea-level Rise suggests that until 2100 the loss of global coastal wetland area will range between zero and thirty percent, assuming no further accommodation space in addition to current levels. It states that the resilience of global wetlands is primarily driven by the availability of accommodation space, which is strongly influenced by the building of anthropogenic infrastructure in the coastal zone. However, such infrastructures are subject to change in the years to come. 

The response of coastal wetlands to sea-level rise during the twenty-first century remains uncertain. Global-scale projections suggest that between 20 and 90 percent (for low and high sea-level rise scenarios, respectively) of the present-day coastal wetland area will be lost, which will, in turn, result in the loss of biodiversity and highly valued ecosystem services. These projections do not necessarily take into account all essential geomorphological, and socio-economic system feedbacks. Here we present an integrated global modelling approach that considers both the ability of coastal wetlands to build up vertically by sediment accretion, and the accommodation space, namely, the vertical and lateral space available for fine sediments to accumulate and be colonized by wetland vegetation. We use this approach to assess global-scale changes in coastal wetland area in response to global sea-level rise and anthropogenic coastal occupation during the twenty-first century. 



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