EVALUATING RESTORATION POTENTIAL AND STORM SURGE ATTENUATION IN DITCHED AND UNDITCHED COASTAL MARSHES
Lundberg, Dorothea June
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The effects of ditching on the hydrological regime and ecosystem services of ditched coastal marshes—as well as the effects of hydrologic restoration of these systems—have yet to be extensively studied. The goals of this project were (1) to determine differences between ecohydrological processes in Ditched and Unditched coastal marshes, (2) to determine the effects of ditch plugging restoration projects on Atlantic Coast and Chesapeake Bay marsh hydrology, and (3) to evaluate Hurricane Sandy storm surge in the coastal marshes. Two separate pairs of Ditched and Unditched marshes were used in this study. The paired sites were adjacent, with similar topography, vegetation, and tidal patterns. Data collection included hydrological properties such as ditch density, tidal stage, water table fluctuations; as well as soil properties. Soil properties were similar in Ditched and Unditched marshes, while ditched marshes had lower water table elevations than Unditched marshes. Ditch plugging restoration partially restored the hydrological regime. A comparison of Chesapeake and Atlantic coastal marshes during Hurricane Sandy indicated similar storm surge elevations, but shorter durations of inundation at the Chesapeake Bay marshes when compared with the Atlantic marshes.