SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Coast

33

A new dinosaur tracksite in the Vale de Meios quarry (Serra de Aire Formation, Bathonian, Portugal)preserves more than 700 theropod tracks. They are organized in at least 80 unidirectional trackways arranged in a bimodal orientation pattern (W/NW and E/SE). Quantitative and qualitative comparisons reveal that the large tridactyl, elongated and asymmetric tracks resemble the typical Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous Megalosauripus ichnogenus in all morphometric parameters. Few of the numerous tracks are preserved as elite tracks while the rest are preserved as different gradients of modified true tracks according to water content, erosive factors, radial fractures and internal overtrack formations. Taphonomical determinations are consistent with paleoenvironmental observations that indicate an inter-tidal flat located at the margin of a coastal barrier. The Megalosauripus tracks represent the oldest occurrence of this ichnotaxon and are attributed to large megalosaurid dinosaurs. Their occurrence in Vale de Meios tidal flat represents the unique paleoethological evidence of megalosaurids moving towards the lagoon, most likley during the low tide periods with feeding purposes.

Concepts: Coast, Dinosaur, Theropoda, Intertidal zone, Tide, Geodesy, Jurassic, Megalosaurus

31

Ecosystem boundary retreat due to human-induced pressure is a generally observed phenomenon. However, studies that document thresholds beyond which internal resistance mechanisms are overwhelmed are uncommon. Following the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill, field studies from a few sites suggested that oiling of salt marshes could lead to a biogeomorphic feedback where plant death resulted in increased marsh erosion. We tested for spatial generality of and thresholds in this effect across 103 salt marsh sites spanning ~430 kilometers of shoreline in coastal Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, using data collected as part of the natural resource damage assessment (NRDA). Our analyses revealed a threshold for oil impacts on marsh edge erosion, with higher erosion rates occurring for ~1-2 years after the spill at sites with the highest amounts of plant stem oiling (90-100%). These results provide compelling evidence showing large-scale ecosystem loss following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. More broadly, these findings provide rare empirical evidence identifying a geomorphologic threshold in the resistance of an ecosystem to increasing intensity of human-induced disturbance.

Concepts: Petroleum, Soil, Marsh, Coast, Swamp, Salt marsh, Fen, Tidal marsh

28

It is predicted that the coastal zone will be among the environments worst affected by projected climate change. Projected losses in beach area will negatively impact on coastal infrastructure and continued recreational use of beaches. Beach nourishment practices such as artificial nourishment, replenishment and scraping are increasingly used to combat beach erosion but the extent and scale of projects is poorly documented in large areas of the world. Through a survey of beach managers of Local Government Areas and a comprehensive search of peer reviewed and grey literature, we assessed the extent of nourishment practices in Australia. The study identified 130 beaches in Australia that were subject to nourishment practices between 2001 and 2011. Compared to projects elsewhere, most Australian projects were small in scale but frequent. Exceptions were nine bypass projects which utilised large volumes of sediment. Most artificial nourishment, replenishment and beach scraping occurred in highly urbanised areas and were most frequently initiated in spring during periods favourable to accretion and outside of the summer season of peak beach use. Projects were generally a response to extreme weather events, and utilised sand from the same coastal compartment as the site of erosion. Management was planned on a regional scale by Local Government Authorities, with little monitoring of efficacy or biological impact. As rising sea levels and growing coastal populations continue to put pressure on beaches a more integrated approach to management is required, that documents the extent of projects in a central repository, and mandates physical and biological monitoring to help ensure the engineering is sustainable and effective at meeting goals.

Concepts: Sediment, Weather, Coast, Beach, Sand, Coastal geography, Extreme weather, Beach nourishment

28

Distribution and levels of C. botulinum type E was determined on field sites used by Inuit hunters for butchering seals along the coast of Nunavik. The incidence of C. botulinum type E in shoreline soil along the coast was 0, 50, and 87.5% of samples tested for the Hudson Strait, Hudson Bay, and Ungava Bay regions, respectively. Spores were detected in seawater or coastal rock surfaces from 17.6% of butchering sites, almost all located in southern Ungava Bay. Concentrations of C. botulinum type E along the Ungava Bay coast were significantly higher than the coasts of Hudson Strait and Hudson Bay, with the highest concentrations (270 to 1,800/kg) found near butchering sites located along the mouths of large rivers. The Koksoak River contained high levels of C. botulinum type E, with the highest median concentration (270/kg) found in sediments of the marine portion of the river. C. botulinum type E was found in the intestinal contents (4.4%) and skins (1.4%) of seals. A high genetic biodiversity of C. botulinum type E isolates was observed among the 21 butchering sites and their surroundings along the Nunavik coastline, with 83% of isolates (44/53) yielding distinct PFGE genotypes. Multiple sources of C. botulinum type E may be involved in the contamination of seal meat during butchering, but the risk of contamination appears to be much higher from environmental sources along the shoreline of southern Ungava Bay and the sediments of the Koksoak River.

Concepts: Coast, Inuit, Beach, Quebec, Clostridium botulinum, Nunavut, Nunavik, Hudson Bay

27

In coastal environments, evaporation is an important driver of subsurface salinity gradients in marsh systems. However, it has not been addressed in the intertidal zone of sandy beaches. Here, we used field data on an estuarine beach foreshore with numerical simulations to show that evaporation causes upper intertidal zone pore-water salinity to be double that of seawater. We found the increase in pore-water salinity mainly depends on air temperature and relative humidity, and tide and wave actions dilute a fraction of the high salinity plume, resulting in a complex process. This is in contrast to previous studies that consider seawater as the most saline source to a coastal aquifer system, thereby concluding that seawater infiltration always increases pore-water salinity by seawater-groundwater mixing dynamics. Our results demonstrate the combined effects of evaporation and tide and waves on subsurface salinity distribution on a beach face. We anticipate our quantitative investigation will shed light on the studies of salt-affected biological activities in the intertidal zone. It also impacts our understanding of the impact of global warming; in particular, the increase in temperature does not only shift the saltwater landward, but creates a different salinity distribution that would have implications on intertidal biological zonation.

Concepts: Water, Coast, Beach, Intertidal zone, Coastal geography, Tide, Shore, Tide pool

27

Plastic, as a form of marine litter, is found in varying quantities and sizes around the globe from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. Identifying patterns of microplastic distribution will benefit an understanding of the scale of their potential effect on the environment and organisms. As sea ice extent is reducing in the Arctic, heightened shipping and fishing activity may increase marine pollution in the area. Microplastics may enter the region following ocean transport and local input, although baseline contamination measurements are still required. Here we present the first study of microplastics in Arctic waters, south and southwest of Svalbard, Norway. Microplastics were found in surface (top 16 cm) and sub-surface (6 m depth) samples using two independent techniques. Origins and pathways bringing microplastic to the Arctic remain unclear. Particle composition (95% fibres) suggests they may either result from the breakdown of larger items (transported over large distances by prevailing currents, or derived from local vessel activity), or input in sewage and wastewater from coastal areas. Concurrent observations of high zooplankton abundance suggest a high probability for marine biota to encounter microplastics and a potential for trophic interactions. Further research is required to understand the effects of microplastic-biota interaction within this productive environment.

Concepts: Ecology, Coast, Ocean, Norway, Arctic Ocean, Arctic, Polar bear, Arctic shrinkage

27

Sea level changes are typically caused by several natural phenomena, including ocean thermal expansion, glacial melt from Greenland and Antarctica. Global average sea level is expected to rise, through the twenty-first century, according to the IPCC projections by between 0.18 and 0.59 cm. Such a rise in sea level will significantly impact coastal area of the Nile Delta, consisting generally of lowland and is densely populated areas and accommodates significant proportion of Egypt’s economic activities and built-up areas. The Nile Delta has been examined in several previous studies, which worked under various hypothetical sea level rise (SLR) scenarios and provided different estimates of areas susceptible to inundation due to SLR. The paper intends, in this respect, to identify areas, as well as land use/land cover, susceptible to inundation by SLR based upon most recent scenarios of SLR, by the year 2100 using GIS. The results indicate that about 22.49, 42.18, and 49.22 % of the total area of coastal governorates of the Nile Delta would be susceptible to inundation under different scenarios of SLR. Also, it was found that 15.56 % of the total areas of the Nile Delta that would be vulnerable to inundation due to land subsidence only, even in the absence of any rise in sea level. Moreover, it was found that a considerable proportion of these areas (ranging between 32.32 and 53.66 %) are currently either wetland or undeveloped areas. Furthermore, natural and/or man-made structures, such as the banks of the International Coastal Highway, were found to provide unintended protection to some of these areas. This suggests that the inundation impact of SLR on the Nile Delta is less than previously reported.

Concepts: Coast, Population density, Egypt, Nile, Cairo, Nile Delta, Aswan Dam, Suez Canal

25

Colonial breeding is an evolutionary puzzle, as the benefits of breeding in high densities are still not fully explained. Although the dynamics of existing colonies are increasingly understood, few studies have addressed the initial formation of colonies, and empirical tests are rare. Using a high-resolution larval drift model, we here document that the distribution of seabird colonies along the Norwegian coast can be explained by variations in the availability and predictability of fish larvae. The modelled variability in concentration of fish larvae is, in turn, predicted by the topography of the continental shelf and coastline. The advection of fish larvae along the coast translates small-scale topographic characteristics into a macroecological pattern, viz. the spatial distribution of top-predator breeding sites. Our findings provide empirical corroboration of the hypothesis that seabird colonies are founded in locations that minimize travel distances between breeding and foraging locations, thereby enabling optimal foraging by central-place foragers.

Concepts: Scientific method, Larva, Bird, Coast, Optimal foraging theory, Foraging, Marine debris, Behavioral ecology

21

Human population density in the coastal zone and potential impacts of climate change underscore a growing conflict between coastal development and an encroaching shoreline. Rising sea-levels and increased storminess threaten to accelerate coastal erosion, while growing demand for coastal real estate encourages more spending to hold back the sea in spite of the shrinking federal budget for beach nourishment. As climatic drivers and federal policies for beach nourishment change, the evolution of coastline mitigation and property values is uncertain. We develop an empirically grounded, stochastic dynamic model coupling coastal property markets and shoreline evolution, including beach nourishment, and show that a large share of coastal property value reflects capitalized erosion control. The model is parameterized for coastal properties and physical forcing in North Carolina, U.S.A. and we conduct sensitivity analyses using property values spanning a wide range of sandy coastlines along the U.S. East Coast. The model shows that a sudden removal of federal nourishment subsidies, as has been proposed, could trigger a dramatic downward adjustment in coastal real estate, analogous to the bursting of a bubble. We find that the policy-induced inflation of property value grows with increased erosion from sea level rise or increased storminess, but the effect of background erosion is larger due to human behavioral feedbacks. Our results suggest that if nourishment is not a long-run strategy to manage eroding coastlines, a gradual removal is more likely to smooth the transition to more climate-resilient coastal communities.

Concepts: United States, Coast, Climate change, Population density, Macroeconomics, Beach, Coastal geography, Shore

18

In this paper we analyse the spatial footprint and temporal clustering of extreme sea level and skew surge events around the UK coast over the last 100 years (1915-2014). The vast majority of the extreme sea level events are generated by moderate, rather than extreme skew surges, combined with spring astronomical high tides. We distinguish four broad categories of spatial footprints of events and the distinct storm tracks that generated them. There have been rare events when extreme levels have occurred along two unconnected coastal regions during the same storm. The events that occur in closest succession (<4 days) typically impact different stretches of coastline. The spring/neap tidal cycle prevents successive extreme sea level events from happening within 4-8 days. Finally, the 2013/14 season was highly unusual in the context of the last 100 years from an extreme sea level perspective.

Concepts: Oceanography, Coast, Moon, United Kingdom, Marine debris, Tide, Storm surge, Nautical chart