Title

Using Aerial Imagery to Determine the Effects of Sea-Level Rise On Fluvial Marshes at the Mouth of the Pascagoula River (Mississippi, USA)

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-1-2021

Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

School

Ocean Science and Engineering

Abstract

Coastal marshes provide valuable ecosystem services yet are increasingly vulnerable to sea level rise (SLR). To facilitate a better understanding of how fluvial marshes along the Gulf of Mexico coast are responding to regional SLR of around 3.7 mm per year, this study used aerial imagery to map land cover at the mouth of the Pascagoula River at 20-year intervals, beginning in 1955 and ending in 2014. High-resolution land cover maps were created for each image date based on a maximum likelihood classification scheme using spectral and textural image features. This marsh ecosystem, at the mouth of the largest free-flowing river by volume in the contiguous United States, should be more resilient to sea level rise than other Gulf Coast marshes, with little restriction to sediment supply and relatively low subsidence rates measured nearby. However, the results of this study show that marsh area declined by 1073 ha (17.5%) and rates of marsh conversion to open water increased over the studied time period. Although modeling studies indicate that coastal marshes worldwide may persist under accelerated SLR, these observations suggest that marsh extent in the sediment-rich Pascagoula River Estuary will continue to decline, signifying vulnerability among other marsh ecosystems along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast.

Publication Title

Journal of Coastal Research

Volume

37

Issue

2

First Page

389

Last Page

407

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