Coastal wetlands are highly productive transition zones between marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Coastal wetlands extend seawards to water depths where light penetration is still high enough to allow plant growth and are limited landwards by the influence of salt water. They have many faces: seagrass meadows, saltmarshes, mangroves, reed belts… Vegetation characteristics differ depending on climate, water level, salinity, nutrient status and other factors.
Coastal wetlands are bioengineers of their own environment. They have the ability to trap and accumulate sediment and thereby to change the bathymetry. And this long-term impact on bathymetry and thus shoreline change can be more important than wave attenuation itself. We aim to achieve a deeper understanding of short-term vs long-term processes of sediment trapping and vegetation propagation. For this we are combining remote sensing methods with vegetation mapping in field and on-site measurements. Our weekly (event-based) to monthly (covering gradual changes) UAV flights offer sufficient spatial and temporal resolution to monitor changes in microtopography and vegetation dynamic. We anticipate that our results will help to better understand ecosystem dynamics as a response of gradual and abrupt disturbances, which may foster confidence in more sustainable coastal adaptation strategies.
For more information on coastal wetland research at CAU, have a look what our colleagues in other CAU departments are working on:
FON2020-04 Zukunft Ozean
Dr. Svenja Karstens