Influences of major storm events on backbarrier salt marsh change : Masonboro Island, Southeastern North Carolina

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Beth A. Reimer (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site:
Dough Gamble

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to utilize a Geographic Information System to investigate how storm events affect backbarrier salt marshes on Masonboro Island, North Carolina. This was performed by examining aerial photographs from 1938 to 2002 that were specifically chosen to capture the condition of the island and marshes before and/or after major storm events. The aerial photographs were manually digitized and categorized based on degree of marsh fragmentation. The area of total marsh, high-, medium-, and low-fragmentation, and total island/sound polygons were calculated for each of the years in the study and compared as percentages. Change detections were performed for each time period and long-term change. Results found that storm overwash did influence marsh change, though most change was not statistically significant. Gains in marsh area occurred with overwashing by infilling open water areas and recolonization of washover deposits. Losses in marsh area were due to erosion by storms and inlet dynamics, burial, and degradation of marsh from lack of inorganic sediments. Overall, the changes that occurred appeared to be the natural responses of backbarrier marshes behind an undeveloped barrier island that is impacted by sea level rise and storm events.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science
Language: English
Date: 2009
Salt marsh ecology--North Carolina--Masonboro Island, Masonboro Island (N.C.), Wetland conservation--North Carolina--Masonboro Island
Salt marsh ecology -- North Carolina -- Masonboro Island
Wetland conservation -- North Carolina -- Masonboro Island
Masonboro Island (N.C.)

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