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Effect of rising sea levels on coastal wetlands

Coastal wetlands provide many important ecosystem services such as natural coastal protection and carbon sequestration. The response of coastal wetlands to future sea-level rise remains uncertain, with many studies suggesting widespread wetland loss. The global modelling approach used in this study to assess changes in coastal wetlands area in response to sea-level rise and coastal occupation during the twenty-first century instead finds that wetland gains of up to 60% of the current area are possible. The simulations suggest that this requires more than 37% of coastal wetlands to have sufficient accommodation space, the vertical and lateral space available for fine sediments to accumulate and to be colonized by wetland vegetation, and that sediment supply remains at present levels. The authors propose that appropriate coastal management can support wetland resilience by promoting the availability of sufficient accommodation space.

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