11 Oct 2021

11 Oct 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESurf.

Biogeomorphic modeling to assess resilience of tidal marsh restoration to sea level rise and sediment supply

Olivier Gourgue1,2, Jim van Belzen3,1, Christian Schwarz4, Wouter Vandenbruwaene5, Joris Vanlede5, Jean-Philippe Belliard1, Sergio Fagherazzi2, Tjeerd J. Bouma3, Johan van de Koppel3,6, and Stijn Temmerman1 Olivier Gourgue et al.
  • 1Ecosystem Management Research Group, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
  • 2Department of Earth and Environment, Boston University, Boston, MA, United States of America
  • 3Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems, NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Yerseke, The Netherlands
  • 4College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, University of Delaware, Lewes, DE, United States of America
  • 5Flanders Hydraulics Research, Antwerp, Belgium
  • 6Conservation Ecology Group, Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

Abstract. There is an increasing demand for creation and restoration of tidal marshes around the world, as they provide highly valued ecosystem services. Yet, tidal marshes are strongly vulnerable to factors such as sea level rise and declining sediment supply. How fast the restored ecosystem develops, how resilient it is to sea level rise, and how this can be steered by restoration design, are key questions that are typically challenging to assess. In this paper, we apply a biogeomorphic model to a planned tidal marsh restoration by dike breaching. Our modeling approach integrates tidal hydrodynamics, sediment transport and vegetation dynamics, accounting for relevant fine-scale flow-vegetation interactions (less than 1 m2) and their impact on vegetation and landform development at the landscape scale (several km2) and on the long term (several decades). Our model performance is positively evaluated against observations of vegetation and geomorphic development in adjacent tidal marshes. Model scenarios demonstrate that the restored tidal marsh can keep pace with realistic rates of sea level rise and that its resilience is more sensitive to the availability of suspended sediments than to the rate of sea level rise. We further demonstrate that restoration design options can steer marsh resilience, as it affects the rates and spatial patterns of biogeomorphic development. By varying the width of two dike breaches, which serve as tidal inlets to the restored marsh, we show that a larger difference in the width of the two inlets leads to more diversity in restored habitats. This study showcases that biogeomorphic modeling can support management choices in restoration design to optimize tidal marsh development towards sustainable restoration goals.

Olivier Gourgue et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on esurf-2021-66', Anonymous Referee #1, 16 Nov 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on esurf-2021-66', Anonymous Referee #2, 16 Dec 2021
  • AC1: 'Comment on esurf-2021-66', Olivier Gourgue, 28 Dec 2021

Olivier Gourgue et al.

Model code and software

Biogeomorphic modeling to assess resilience of tidal marsh restoration to sea level rise and sediment supply - Supporting code and data Gourgue, O., van Belzen, J., Schwarz, C., Vandenbruwaene, W., Vanlede, J., Belliard, J.-P., Fagherazzi, S., Bouma, T. J., van de Koppel, J., Temmerman, S.

Demeter (1.0.5) Gourgue, O., van Belzen, J., Schwarz, C., Bouma, T. J., van de Koppel, J., Temmerman, S.

OGTools (1.1) Gourgue, O.

TidalGeoPro (0.1) Gourgue, O., Pelckmans, I., Fagherazzi, S., Temmerman, S.

Olivier Gourgue et al.


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Short summary
There is an increasing demand for tidal marsh restoration around the world. We have developed a new modeling approach to reduce the uncertainty associated with their development. Its application to a real tidal marsh restoration project in Northwestern Europe illustrates how the rate of landscape development can be steered by restoration design, with important consequences on restored tidal marsh resilience to increasing sea level rise and decreasing sediment supply.