Publication Details

Rogers, K. & Saintilan, N. (2009). Predicting the response of coastal wetlands of Southeastern Australia to sea-level rise. 2009 18th NSW Coastal Conference Papers (pp. 1-23). Australia: NSW Coastal Conference.


Coastal saltmarsh is an endangered ecological community in New South Wales and sea-level rise has been listed as a key threatening process. Over the previous five decades moderate rates of sea-level rise have coincided with the invasion of saltmarsh by mangrove. Surface elevation tables (SETs) were installed in 12 coastal wetlands in Southeastern Australia to establish elevation and accretion trajectories for comparisons with mangrove encroachment of saltmarsh and sea-level rise. SETs confirmed that the elevational response of wetlands is more complex than accretion alone and elevation changes may also be attributed to below-ground processes that alter the soil volume such as subsidence/compaction, groundwater volume fluctuations, and below-ground biomass changes. A simple modelling approach was employed to establish a relationship between the observed rate of mangrove encroachment of saltmarsh and relative sea-level rise, which incorporates the eustatic component of sea-level rise and changes in the marsh elevation. Increasing access to high resolution digital elevation models will enhance our capacity to predict the response of coastal wetlands to sea-level rise. Long-term datasets of elevation dynamics and improved understanding of the feedback mechanisms influencing marsh elevations will further enhance our modelling capacity.