Document Details

Title Elevation drives gradients in surface soil temperature within salt marshes
Archive All Files / Documents / Publications / Journal Articles

Elevation differences in salt marshes result in numerous ecological consequences as a result of variation in tidal flooding. We demonstrate here that elevation differences are also negatively correlated with soil temperature on the marsh platform, irrespective of tidal flooding. Field observations of soil temperature at 10‐cm depth in a Georgia marsh showed that elevation increases of 0.5 m corresponded to decreases in average soil temperature of 0.9-1.7°C during both winter and summer. Landsat 8 estimates of land surface temperatures across the marsh in dry (nonflooded) scenes also showed that temperature decreased with increasing elevation, which was consistent with soil observations. Similar satellite results were also found in a test marsh in Virginia. Biological reactions are temperature‐dependent, and these findings indicate that metabolic processes will vary over short distances. This is important for accurately estimating marsh metabolism and predicting how changes in temperature will affect future productivity.

Contributors Merryl Alber and Jessica O'Connell

Alber, M. and O'Connell, J. 2019. Elevation drives gradients in surface soil temperature within salt marshes. Geophysical Research Letters. 46:5313-5322. (DOI:

Key Words elevation, Landsat, LTER, salt marsh, Spartina alterniflora, temperature, UGAMI Publication
File Date 2019
Web Link Web link
view/download Web link

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grants OCE-9982133, OCE-0620959, OCE-1237140 and OCE-1832178. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.