EGU22-9967, updated on 09 Jan 2024
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The effect of experimental warming on the resistance of salt-marsh vegetation to hydrodynamic forcing

Svenja Reents1,2, Kai Jensen1, Roy Rich3, Simon Thomsen1, and Stefanie Nolte4,5
Svenja Reents et al.
  • 1Institute of Plant Science and Microbiolgy, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany (
  • 2Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Wadden Sea Station Sylt, List, Germany
  • 3Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, MD 21037, USA
  • 4School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK
  • 5Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Pakefield Rd, Lowestoft, UK

Facing the consequences of climate change like sea level rise and an intensified storminess, salt marshes will play an increasingly important role in future coastal protection. The vegetation of salt marshes contributes significantly to the protection function as the plants reduce erosion and act as obstruction to hydrodynamic forces resulting in wave attenutation. Yet, how other global change factors such as higher temperatures will affect salt marshes and their potential to protect our coasts against high wave intensities, e.g. during storm surges, is largely unknown.

In a world-unique whole ecosystem warming experiment (MERIT) we increased air and soil temperature in a salt marsh at the German North Sea coast. Here, we aimed to examine effects of warming on plant characteristics critical for withstanding hydrodynamic forces. Besides quantifying biomechanical and biochemical properties, that are known to affect plant rigidity, we additionally measured spectral reflectance to assess the NDVI of the canopy. This was done to quantify the expected shifts in the growing season due to warming (i.e. earlier green-up in spring and/or delayed senescence in autumn) that would possibly coincide with the storm surge season in NW European salt marshes. Results of this study will contribute to a better understanding of future marsh resilience and wave attenuation capacity in a warmer world.

How to cite: Reents, S., Jensen, K., Rich, R., Thomsen, S., and Nolte, S.: The effect of experimental warming on the resistance of salt-marsh vegetation to hydrodynamic forcing, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-9967,, 2022.