Biologically-controlled multiple equilibria of tidal landforms and the fate of the Venice lagoon


Journal Article

Looking across a tidal landscape, can one foresee the signs of impending shifts among different geomorphological structures? This is a question of paramount importance considering the ecological, cultural and socio-economic relevance of tidal environments and their worldwide decline. In this Letter we argue affirmatively by introducing a model of the coupled tidal physical and biological processes. Multiple equilibria, and transitions among them, appear in the evolutionary dynamics of tidal landforms. Vegetation type, disturbances of the benthic biofilm, sediment availability and marine transgressions or regressions drive the bio-geomorphic evolution of the system. Our approach provides general quantitative routes to model the fate of tidal landforms, which we illustrate in the case of the Venice lagoon (Italy), for which a large body of empirical observations exists spanning at least five centuries. Such observations are reproduced by the model, which also predicts that salt marshes in the Venice lagoon may not survive climatic changes in the next century if IPCC's scenarios of high relative sea level rise occur. Copyright 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Marani, M; D'Alpaos, A; Lanzoni, S; Carniello, L; Rinaldo, A

Published Date

  • June 16, 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 34 / 11

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0094-8276

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1029/2007GL030178

Citation Source

  • Scopus