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Tidal-scale flow routing and sedimentation in mangrove forests: Combining field data and numerical modelling
Horstman, E.M.; Dohmen-Janssen, C.M.; Bouma, T.J.; Hulscher, S.J.M.H. (2015). Tidal-scale flow routing and sedimentation in mangrove forests: Combining field data and numerical modelling. Geomorphology (Amst.) 228: 244–262. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2014.08.011
In: Geomorphology. Elsevier: Amsterdam; New York; Oxford; Tokyo. ISSN 0169-555X, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

Author keywords
    Mangroves; Biophysical interactions; Flow routing; Sediment deposition; Numerical modelling; Environmental change

Authors  Top 
  • Horstman, E.M.
  • Dohmen-Janssen, C.M.
  • Bouma, T.J., more
  • Hulscher, S.J.M.H., more

Abstract
    Tidal-scale biophysical interactions establish particular flow routing and sedimentation patterns in coastal mangroves. Sluggish water flows through the mangrove vegetation and enhanced sediment deposition are essential to maintain these valuable ecosystems, thereby enabling their contribution to coastal protection and stabilization. Spatially explicit field observations of tidal-scale flow routing and sediment deposition were obtained in an elevated mangrove stand dissected by tidal creeks, located in the Trang river estuary at the Thai Andaman coast. An accurate and efficient depth-averaged process-based numerical model of this field site was developed in Delft3D to study the contributions of various biogeophysical mangrove settings to the observed tidal dynamics and to study the impacts of changes of these environmental conditions. The creeks are found to form the major pathway for the tidal inflow during the lower tides, while the sheltered interior of the forest is an effective sediment sink during the higher tides. A numerical sensitivity analysis of the initial response—or adaptive capacity—of the studied mangrove system to instantaneous environmental changes reveals the stable state of the study site: deposition rates are largely imposed by the topography and relative elevation, while they are rather independent of the vegetation density. Deeper inundations of the mangroves favor sheet flows through the forest and spatially averaged deposition rates decrease, particularly when this coincides with decreasing vegetation densities. Moreover, the sediment trapping efficiency is found to reduce significantly with diminishing sediment inputs and with mangrove area losses. These results clearly indicate the sensitivity of mangroves' ecosystem engineering ability—in terms of sedimentation—to climate change and anthropogenic threats.

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