Publication Date



Estuaries and Coasts


Tidal marshes build elevations by below- and aboveground organic and mineral soil processes. Marsh elevation and accre- tion data can be used to determine if marshes are keeping pace with sea-level rise. Using a network of 54 deep rod surface elevation tables with paired feldspar marker horizon plots, we tracked elevation and accretion trends across 16 marshes in California, USA. All sites had overall positive gains across years that included severe drought conditions and extreme rain events. Marsh elevation relative to tidal datum (z*) was the key predictor for elevation and accretion rates, with higher change rates at lower z* sites. Marsh sites are clustered into three regional groups (Northern California, San Francisco Bay area, and Southern California), primarily defined by maximum temperature and annual rainfall differences. Elevation, accretion, and shallow subsidence rates were not significantly different between clusters, but their explanatory variables did vary. High- temperature days were a key predictor for elevation, accretion, and shallow subsidence rates in the state-wide analysis and San Francisco Bay regional analysis. The largest elevation gains were observed in the San Francisco Bay-Delta and some of the smallest in Humboldt Bay, with Morro Bay having the lowest accretion rate overall. Central and Southern California marshes were keeping pace or out-pacing sea-level rise, while none of the Humboldt Bay marshes were keeping pace. Marsh surface elevation data can inform management intervention and be a leading indicator for sea-level rise vulnerability. Long- term monitoring across geomorphic settings can help inform management and anticipate marsh change.