Groundwater–surface water exchange in salt marsh ecosystems mediates nearshore salt, nutrient, and carbon budgets with implications for biological productivity and global climate. Despite their importance, a synthesis of salt marsh groundwater studies is lacking. In this review, we summarize drivers mediating salt marsh hydrogeology, review field and modeling techniques, and discuss patterns of exchange. New data from a Delaware seepage meter study are reported which highlight small-scale spatial variability in exchange rates. A synthesis of the salt marsh hydrogeology literature reveals a positive relationship between tidal range and submarine groundwater discharge but not porewater exchange, highlighting the multidimensional drivers of marsh hydrogeology. Field studies are heavily biased towards microtidal systems of the US East Coast, with little global information available. A preliminary estimate of marsh porewater exchange along the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic Bights is 8–30 × 1013
, equivalent to recirculating the entire volume of seawater overlying the shelf through tidal marsh sediments in ~30–90 years. This review concludes with a discussion of critical questions to address that will decrease uncertainty in global budget estimates and enhance our capacity to predict future responses to global climate change.
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