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Fluxes of water, sediments, and biogeochemical compounds in salt marshes

Abstract

Tidal oscillations systematically flood salt marshes, transporting water, sediments, organic matter, and biogeochemical elements such as silica. Here we present a review of recent studies on these fluxes and their effects on both ecosystem functioning and morphological evolution of salt marshes. We reexamine a simplified model for the computation of water fluxes in salt marshes that captures the asymmetry in discharge between flood and ebb. We discuss the role of storm conditions on sediment fluxes both in tidal channels and on the marsh platform. We present recent methods and field instruments for the measurement of fluxes of organic matter. These methods will provide long-term data sets with fine temporal resolution that will help scientists to close the carbon budget in salt marshes. Finally, the main processes controlling fluxes of biogenic and dissolved silica in salt marshes are explained, with particular emphasis on the uptake by marsh macrophytes and diatoms.