ABSTRACT

Aranda, M.; Gracia, F.J.; Peralta, G., and Flor-Blanco, G., 2020. The application of high-resolution mapping for the analysis of recent eco-geomorphological changes in San Vicente de la Barquera estuary (North Spain). In: Malvárez, G. and Navas, F. (eds.), Global Coastal Issues of 2020. Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 95, pp. 341–345. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.

Geomorphological changes in recent decades in the estuarine system of San Vicente de la Barquera (Cantabria, Spain) are analyzed. For this analysis, two high-resolution geomorphological maps are generated from visual interpretation of digital orthophotos (1956 and 2017). The Habitat Digitizer Tool for ArcGIS was used as an interface to rapidly identify and assign attributes to the polygons created. Settings are conditioned at a spatial scale of 1:2500 with a minimum mapping unit (MMU) of 50 m2. The main results show remarkable changes in the studied saltmarshes, with a drastic 85% reduction in the occupied surface (from 25.65% of the estuary in 1956, to 3.62% in 2017). The results here presented suggest that the geomorphological changes and recent evolution observed in the saltmarshes of San Vicente de la Barquera may be related to: (1) a decrease on river sedimentary discharge and a higher coastal sediment transport inside the estuary, (2) human interventions like dredging of the main channel or shore urbanization and, finally, (3) changes on mean sea level rise in the last century, which significantly affect low-lying areas which have not potential area to migrate. These factors have altered the estuarine dynamics, reducing the area occupied by some geomorphological units and, therefore, causing habitat changes and disappearance. This work illustrates the importance of fine-resolution mapping to estimate trends and the development of proper management measures in order to restore estuarine habitats and their associated ecosystem services.

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