Effects of the North Atlantic Oscillation and wind waves on salt marsh dynamics in the Danish Wadden Sea: a quantitative model as proof of concept Academic Article uri icon


  • Long-term eustatic sea-level variation has been recognized as a primary factor affecting the hydrological and geomorphic dynamics of salt marshes. However, recent studies suggest that wind waves influenced by atmospheric oscillations also may play an important role in many coastal areas. Although this notion has been conceptually introduced for the Wadden Sea, no modeling attempts have been made yet. As a proof of concept, this study developed a simulation model using the commercially available STELLA software, based on long-term data on water level and sedimentation collected at a back-barrier marsh on the Skallingen peninsula in Denmark. In the model, the frequency (number year-1) of wind-driven extreme high water level (HWL) events (>130 cm Danish Ordnance Zero) was simulated in terms of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index. Then, surface accretion (cm year-1) and submergence duration (h year-1) were simulated for the period 1933-2007. The model showed good performances: simulated rates of surface accretion and simulated durations of submergence decreased from 1950 to 1980, the point at which the NAO shifted from its negative to its positive phase, and increased thereafter. Despite continuous increases in surface elevation, increases in simulated submergence duration were apparently due to wind-driven HWL events, which generally increased in frequency after 1980. These findings for the Danish Wadden Sea add to the growing body of evidence that the role of atmospheric oscillations-e.g., the NAO-as drivers of wind-generated water level variations merits more attention in assessing the impact of climate change on coastal marshes. 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Kim, D., Grant, W. E., Cairns, D. M., & Bartholdy, J.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • Kim, Daehyun||Grant, William E||Cairns, David M||Bartholdy, Jesper

publication date

  • August 2013