Dataset: Sea-level rise impacts on tidal marshes and estuarine biogeochemical processes

Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

VIMS Department/Program

C.K. Harris Data Archive

Publication Date


Spatial Information

Chesapeake Bay, York River

Data Access

Zip files available on Link to Full Text button.


We used a numerical model to investigate the effects of Sea-level Rise (SLR) on the biogeochemical processes in the York River Estuary with extensive tidal marshes. The fully-coupled hydrodynamic-water quality-marsh model accounts for the spatial and temporal variations of physical-biogeochemical interactions between the tidal marshes and surrounding waters. This study focuses on an SLR scenario where the vertical accretion of tidal marshes keeps pace with the rising sea levels. Results show that SLR amplifies the tidal range and prolongs flooding duration, which results in enhanced porewater exchanges of materials between the tidal marshes and the surrounding waters. The increased availability of shallow-water habitats and enhanced light utilization in the shallow areas under SLR promote phytoplankton production in the shallow-water regions of the York River. Consequently, the organic carbon in the open water is fueled by the contributions from shallow waters and the enhanced export of organic carbon from the marshes. The change in the dissolved oxygen (DO) budget in the York River Estuary is attributed to changes in water column respiration, net metabolism of the benthic layer, reaeration, phytoplankton production, and increased stratification under SLR. The net DO flux out of the York River increases at the York River mouth. Diel DO variation, especially in the marshes in the upper estuary, promotes phosphorus release from the sediment. The changes in dissolved nitrogen under SLR are relatively minimal.


Files Description:

Two SCHIM model inputs zip file.


SCHISM; Chesapeake Bay; Modeling; York River Estuary; Tidal Marsh

Associated Publications

Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences [publication in revision]


This research was financially supported by the Virginia Commonwealth Research Fellowship and supported in part by an appointment to the Research Participation Program at the Chesapeake Bay Program Office, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 3, administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education through an interagency agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We received tremendous guidance and supports from drs. Carl Cerco, Carl Hershner, Mark Brush, and Marjy Friedrichs in this study. Simulations presented in this paper were conducted using Sciclone at William & Mary, which was provided with assistance from the National Science Foundation, the Virginia Port Authority, Virginia’s Commonwealth Technology Research Fund, and the Office of Naval Research.