Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Estuaries and Coasts
High-magnitude storm events such as Hurricane Sandy are powerful agents of geomorphic change in coastal marshes, potentially altering their surface elevation trajectories. But how do a storm’s impacts vary across a large region spanning a variety of wetland settings and storm exposures and intensities. We determined the short-term impacts of Hurricane Sandy at 223 surface elevation table–marker horizon stations in estuarine marshes located across the northeast region of the United States by comparing post- storm surface elevation change with pre-storm elevation trends. We hypothesized that the storm’s effect on marsh elevation trends would be influenced by position relative to landfall (right or left) and distance from landfall. The structural equation model presented predicts that marshes located to the left of landfall were more likely to experience an elevation gain greater than expected, and this positive deviation from pre-storm elevation trends tended to have a greater magnitude than those experiencing negative deviations (elevation loss), potentially due to greater sediment deposition. The magnitude of negative deviations from elevation change in marshes to the right of landfall was greater than for positive deviations, with a greater effect in marshes within 200 km of landfall, potentially from the extent and magnitude of storm surge. Overall, results provide an integrated picture of how storm characteristics combined with the local wetland setting are important to a storm’s impact on surface elevation, and that the surface elevation response can vary widely among sites across a region impacted by the same storm.
Hurricane Sandy, Marsh dynamics, Storm impacts, Surface elevation table, marker horizon, SET-MH, Structural equation modeling
Yeates, Alice G.; Grace, James B.; et al; Lerberg, Scott; Lynch, James C.; Maher, Nichole; Megonigal, J.Patrick; Reay, W. G.; and et al, Hurricane Sandy Effects on Coastal Marsh Elevation Change (2020). Estuaries and Coasts, 43, 1640-1657.