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Nat Commun. 2017 Jul 13;8:16094. doi: 10.1038/ncomms16094.

Potential increase in coastal wetland vulnerability to sea-level rise suggested by considering hydrodynamic attenuation effects.

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School of Engineering and Centre for Water Security and Environmental Sustainability, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan 2308, Australia.
Department of Environmental Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde 2109, Australia.
Department of Hydraulics and Research Council of National University of Rosario (CIUNR), Rosario 2000, Argentina.


The future of coastal wetlands and their ecological value depend on their capacity to adapt to the interacting effects of human impacts and sea-level rise. Even though extensive wetland loss due to submergence is a possible scenario, its magnitude is highly uncertain due to limited understanding of hydrodynamic and bio-geomorphic interactions over time. In particular, the effect of man-made drainage modifications on hydrodynamic attenuation and consequent wetland evolution is poorly understood. Predictions are further complicated by the presence of a number of vegetation types that change over time and also contribute to flow attenuation. Here, we show that flow attenuation affects wetland vegetation by modifying its wetting-drying regime and inundation depth, increasing its vulnerability to sea-level rise. Our simulations for an Australian subtropical wetland predict much faster wetland loss than commonly used models that do not consider flow attenuation.

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