Extensive loss of salt marshes in back-barrier tidal embayments is ongoing worldwide as a consequence of land-use changes, wave-driven lateral marsh erosion, and relative sea-level rise compounded by mineral sediment starvation. However, how salt-marsh loss affects the hydrodynamics of back-barrier systems and feeds back into their morphodynamic evolution is still poorly understood. Here we use a depth-averaged numerical hydrodynamic model to investigate the feedback between salt-marsh erosion and hydrodynamic changes in the Venice Lagoon, a large microtidal back-barrier system in northeastern Italy. Numerical simulations are carried out for past morphological configurations of the lagoon dating back up to 1887, as well as for hypothetical scenarios involving additional marsh erosion relative to the present-day conditions. The progressive loss of salt marshes significantly impacted the lagoon hydrodynamics, both directly and indirectly, by amplifying high-tide water levels, reducing wind-wave energy dissipation, and critically affecting tidal asymmetries across the lagoon. Restoration projects and manmade protection of marsh margins, which have been implemented over the past few decades, limited the detrimental effects of marsh loss on the lagoon hydrodynamics, while not substantially changing the risk of flooding in urban lagoon settlements. Compared to previous studies, our analyses suggest that the hydrodynamic response of back-barrier systems to salt-marsh erosion is extremely site-specific, depending closely on the morphological characteristics of the embayment as well as on the external tidal and wind forcings.

Hydrodynamic Feedbacks of Salt-Marsh Loss in the Shallow Microtidal Back-Barrier Lagoon of Venice (Italy)

Finotello, A
;
Carniello, L;Bertuzzo, E;
2023-01-01

Abstract

Extensive loss of salt marshes in back-barrier tidal embayments is ongoing worldwide as a consequence of land-use changes, wave-driven lateral marsh erosion, and relative sea-level rise compounded by mineral sediment starvation. However, how salt-marsh loss affects the hydrodynamics of back-barrier systems and feeds back into their morphodynamic evolution is still poorly understood. Here we use a depth-averaged numerical hydrodynamic model to investigate the feedback between salt-marsh erosion and hydrodynamic changes in the Venice Lagoon, a large microtidal back-barrier system in northeastern Italy. Numerical simulations are carried out for past morphological configurations of the lagoon dating back up to 1887, as well as for hypothetical scenarios involving additional marsh erosion relative to the present-day conditions. The progressive loss of salt marshes significantly impacted the lagoon hydrodynamics, both directly and indirectly, by amplifying high-tide water levels, reducing wind-wave energy dissipation, and critically affecting tidal asymmetries across the lagoon. Restoration projects and manmade protection of marsh margins, which have been implemented over the past few decades, limited the detrimental effects of marsh loss on the lagoon hydrodynamics, while not substantially changing the risk of flooding in urban lagoon settlements. Compared to previous studies, our analyses suggest that the hydrodynamic response of back-barrier systems to salt-marsh erosion is extremely site-specific, depending closely on the morphological characteristics of the embayment as well as on the external tidal and wind forcings.
2023
59
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/5035660
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