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Long-term changes in salt marsh extent affected by channel deepening in a modified estuary
Cox, R.; Wadsworth, R.A.; Thomson, A.G. (2003). Long-term changes in salt marsh extent affected by channel deepening in a modified estuary. Cont. Shelf Res. 23(17-19): 1833-1846.
In: Continental Shelf Research. Pergamon Press: Oxford; New York. ISSN 0278-4343, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    Salt marshes; Coastal erosion; Dredging; Sea-level changes; Netherlands; Westerschelde Estuary

Authors  Top 
  • Cox, R.
  • Wadsworth, R.A.
  • Thomson, A.G.

    The aim of this study is to quantify the long-term (54 years) rates of marsh extension and retreat at two sites in the Westerschelde Estuary, SW Netherlands. Nine sets of aerial photographs were obtained for each of the two salt marsh sites, Zuidgors and Waarde, taken at various times between 1944 and 1998. The seaward edges of the marshes were digitised from rectified images after the photographs had been scanned and georegistered to the Dutch National Grid. Comparison of the extents of the marshes at these nine time points revealed that the areas of both marshes had fluctuated during these 54 years with periods of both extension and retreat of the seaward marsh edges. These periods of extension and retreat appeared to be approximately synchronised until the 1990s, with mean changes in position of marsh front ranging from -7.92 to 6.04 m a-1.

    The rate of landward retreat and seaward extension of the marsh front is shown to be related to an increase in the tidal prism brought about by dredging operations to maintain or increase the depth of the main navigable channel of the estuary. The consequent greater frequency with which the high tides reach the edge of the fringing marshes increases the risk of erosion. Strong westerly winds may also be a factor in increasing erosion. No relationship between the volume of shipping traffic using the estuary and marsh erosion was found.

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