Site: Virginia Coast Reserve LTER

Credit: Erika Zambello

Long term VCR LTER and comparative studies define a threshold sea-level rise rate beyond which marshes cannot keep pace and drown. An early warning indicator of this state change is an increase in recovery time following flooding disturbances. Storms cause marsh loss by erosion in proportion to wave energy at the marsh edge. Smaller, more frequent storms, not hurricanes, are responsible for most marsh erosion, and this can be reduced by adjacent oyster reefs and seagrass meadows that attenuate waves.