Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Wetland Dynamics

Sea level rise (SLR) is a well-documented aspect of anthropogenic climate change which is primary due to the thermal expansion of seawater and melting of ice caps and glaciers. Climate change is expected to exacerbate sea-level rise within the next century, much larger than the observations since the beginning of the recordings.

Wetlands are ecosystems characterized by either permanent or seasonal flooding. They provide a number of important functions including coastal protection, improvement in water quality and carbon sequestration. SLR has been shown to move coastlines, including wetlands. If no accommodation space is available, the wetlands along the coastlines could be permanently lost due to this movement. In this project, our objective is to delineate the impacts of SLR on wetland dynamics under changing climate on a global scale where particular focus is given to the consequences of manmade structures along coastlines.

Figure caption. Scenario (a) shows the sea level rise (SLR) moves the coastline inland which causes the wetlands also to move inland. Scenario (B) shows that if there is no space for accommodation, e.g. due to built environment the wetlands will be lost permanently.

Figure caption. The map displays the current wetlands of the Wadden Sea in Germany; Shipping routes and ferry services already endanger the wetland ecosystem. Areas that would be flooded after SLR are mostly protected by dams, walls or dikes preventing the wetlands to move inland.

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