Special Issue "Climate Change and Anthropogenic Impact on Coastal Environments"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Oceans and Coastal Zones".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Monica Bini
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Pisa, Via S. Maria 53, 56126 Pisa, Italy
Interests: geoarchaeology; coastal geomorphology; climate change; human impact; Anthropocene
Dr. Veronica Rossi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna, Bologna, Italy
Interests: quaternary stratigraphy; palaeoecology; sequence stratigraphy; facies analysis; geoarchaeology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Coastal environments, including lagoons, bays, estuaries, and wetlands, represent valuable resources in terms of both socioeconomic interest and cultural-natural heritage. However, these areas placed at the border between land and sea are inevitably at the forefront against the threat of global climate change and their complex dynamics and resilience strategies have only been partially understood so far.

Nevertheless, the high sensitivity of coastal environments to even subtle changes in climate conditions and anthropogenic activities, operating at various timescales (from millennial to sub-centennial), makes them exceptional archives where critical information about both present and past processes are stored.

Recent advances in field observation, laboratory techniques, and numerical modeling, as well as the continuous improvement in remote sensing technology, have enabled the reconstruction of past coastal landscapes and helped to decipher the main external forcing factors with an increasing degree of confidence. These lessons from the past are strategic for a robust estimation of future scenarios.

This Special Issue is open to research papers on various aspects of climate and human impact on coastal environments, derived from different lines of evidence including geomorphological, stratigraphic, geochemical, ecological, and microbiological data.

We welcome original research papers as well as reviews. The submission of interdisciplinary studies is especially encouraged.

Dr.  Monica Bini
Dr. Veronica Rossi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Holocene paleoenvironmental reconstructions;
  • Anthropic pressure (contaminants, plastic, water regulation, etc.);
  • Coastal erosion;
  • Lagoons/wetlands evolution and preservation;
  • Drivers of landscape change and possible future trends;
  • Effects of climate change in the past and possible future trends

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Climate Change and Anthropogenic Impact on Coastal Environments
Water 2021, 13(9), 1182; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13091182 - 25 Apr 2021
Viewed by 560
Abstract
Coastal-transitional areas, including delta plains, strandplains, lagoons, embayments, salt marshes, and mangroves, are some of the most valuable global resources in terms of both socioeconomic interest and cultural–natural heritage [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Anthropogenic Impact on Coastal Environments)

Research

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Article
Late Quaternary Landscape Dynamics at the La Spezia Gulf (NW Italy): A Multi-Proxy Approach Reveals Environmental Variability within a Rocky Embayment
Water 2021, 13(4), 427; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13040427 - 06 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1087
Abstract
The Gulf of La Spezia (GLS) in Northwest Italy is a rocky embayment with low fluvial influence facing the Mediterranean Sea. Past landscape dynamics were investigated through a multi-proxy, facies-based analysis down to a core depth of 30 m. The integration of quantitative [...] Read more.
The Gulf of La Spezia (GLS) in Northwest Italy is a rocky embayment with low fluvial influence facing the Mediterranean Sea. Past landscape dynamics were investigated through a multi-proxy, facies-based analysis down to a core depth of 30 m. The integration of quantitative ostracod, foraminifera, and pollen analyses, supported by radiocarbon ages, proved to be a powerful tool to unravel the late Quaternary palaeoenvironmental evolution and its forcing factors. The complex interplay between relative sea-level (RSL), climatic changes, and geomorphological features of the embayment drove four main evolution phases. A barrier–lagoon system developed in response to the rising RSL of the Late Pleistocene (likely the Last Interglacial). The establishment of glacial conditions then promoted the development of an alluvial environment, with generalised erosion of the underlying succession and subsequent accumulation of fluvial strata. The Holocene transgression (dated ca. 9000 cal year BP) caused GLS inundation and the formation of a low-confined lagoon basin, which rapidly turned into a coastal bay from ca. 8000 cal year BP onwards. This latter environmental change occurred in response to the last Holocene stage of global sea-level acceleration, which submerged a morphological relief currently forming a drowned barrier-island complex in the embayment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Anthropogenic Impact on Coastal Environments)
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Article
Pollen Geochronology from the Atlantic Coast of the United States during the Last 500 Years
Water 2021, 13(3), 362; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13030362 - 31 Jan 2021
Viewed by 1092
Abstract
Building robust age–depth models to understand climatic and geologic histories from coastal sedimentary archives often requires composite chronologies consisting of multi-proxy age markers. Pollen chronohorizons derived from a known change in vegetation are important for age–depth models, especially those with other sparse or [...] Read more.
Building robust age–depth models to understand climatic and geologic histories from coastal sedimentary archives often requires composite chronologies consisting of multi-proxy age markers. Pollen chronohorizons derived from a known change in vegetation are important for age–depth models, especially those with other sparse or imprecise age markers. However, the accuracy of pollen chronohorizons compared to other age markers and the impact of pollen chronohorizons on the precision of age–depth models, particularly in salt marsh environments, is poorly understood. Here, we combine new and published pollen data from eight coastal wetlands (salt marshes and mangroves) along the Atlantic Coast of the United States (U.S.) from Florida to Connecticut to define the age and uncertainty of 17 pollen chronohorizons. We found that 13 out of 17 pollen chronohorizons were consistent when compared to other age markers (radiocarbon, radionuclide 137Cs and pollution markers). Inconsistencies were likely related to the hyperlocality of pollen chronohorizons, mixing of salt marsh sediment, reworking of pollen from nearby tidal flats, misidentification of pollen signals, and inaccuracies in or misinterpretation of other age markers. Additionally, in a total of 24 models, including one or more pollen chronohorizons, increased precision (up to 41 years) or no change was found in 18 models. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Anthropogenic Impact on Coastal Environments)
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Article
Stable Oxygen and Carbon Isotope Composition of Holocene Mytilidae from the Camarones Coast (Chubut, Argentina): Palaeoceanographic Implications
Water 2020, 12(12), 3464; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123464 - 09 Dec 2020
Viewed by 716
Abstract
The stable isotope composition of living and of Holocene Mytilidae shells was measured in the area of Camarones (Chubut, Argentina). The most striking results were the high δ18O values measured in samples older than ca. 6.1 cal ka BP. In the [...] Read more.
The stable isotope composition of living and of Holocene Mytilidae shells was measured in the area of Camarones (Chubut, Argentina). The most striking results were the high δ18O values measured in samples older than ca. 6.1 cal ka BP. In the younger samples, the δ18O values remained substantially stable and similar to those of living specimens. Analysis of the data revealed the possibility for this isotopic shift to be driven mainly by changes in temperature probably accompanied by minor changes in salinity, suggesting cooler seawater before 6.1 cal ka BP, with a maximum possible temperature shift of ca. 5 °C. A possible explanation of this change can be related to a northward position of the confluence zone of the Falkland and Brazilian currents. This is consistent with the data obtained in marine cores, which indicate a northerly position of the confluence in the first half of the Holocene. Our data are also in line with the changes in wind strength and position of the Southern Westerlies Wind, as reconstructed in terrestrial proxies from the Southernmost Patagonia region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Anthropogenic Impact on Coastal Environments)
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Article
Conservation Paleobiology as a Tool to Define Reference Conditions in Naturally Stressed Transitional Settings: Micropaleontological Insights from the Holocene of the Po Coastal Plain (Italy)
Water 2020, 12(12), 3420; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123420 - 04 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 757
Abstract
The key role of paralic environments as providers of ecosystem services, associated with their increasingly threatened state, led to the definition of international water management policies aimed to improve ecological quality status (EcoQs). Restoration actions rely on the definition of reference conditions, which [...] Read more.
The key role of paralic environments as providers of ecosystem services, associated with their increasingly threatened state, led to the definition of international water management policies aimed to improve ecological quality status (EcoQs). Restoration actions rely on the definition of reference conditions, which is a particularly challenging task in naturally stressed transitional environments. In the present work, we apply the diversity index Exp(H’bc) on benthic foraminifer assemblages from two anthropogenically unimpacted transitional to coastal Holocene sediment successions of the Po coastal plain, in order to assess past EcoQs (PaleoEcoQs). Ostracod ecological groups provided detailed insights on naturally stressful paleoenvironmental conditions. We show that “poor” to “moderate” PaleoEcoQs are recorded by biological indicators at reference conditions under fluctuations of chemical-physical parameters and organic matter enrichment. We emphasize the importance of a site-specific paleobiological approach, as significant differences in diversity occur even on a short spatial scale. This study illustrates that early to mid-Holocene sediment successions resulted to be appropriate for conservation paleobiological purposes, providing a high-resolution paleoecological record under the influence of the Holocene sea-level rise in analogy with the present-day global change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Anthropogenic Impact on Coastal Environments)
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Article
Spatial and Temporal Distribution of Chemically Characterized Microplastics within the Protected Area of Pelagos Sanctuary (NW Mediterranean Sea): Focus on Natural and Urban Beaches
Water 2020, 12(12), 3389; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123389 - 02 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1141
Abstract
Data on the abundance and distribution of Anthropogenic Marine Debris (AMD) on the coastal areas of the northern Tyrrhenian coast are still scarce. The objective of this study is to characterize, in terms of size, color, morphology and polymeric nature, the Large Microplastics [...] Read more.
Data on the abundance and distribution of Anthropogenic Marine Debris (AMD) on the coastal areas of the northern Tyrrhenian coast are still scarce. The objective of this study is to characterize, in terms of size, color, morphology and polymeric nature, the Large Microplastics (LMPs), i.e., plastic objects within 1 and 5 mm, sampled on three beaches located within the coastal macro-area of the Pelagos Sanctuary, an international protected zone in the north-western Mediterranean. The beaches have similar morphological characteristics but different degrees of urbanization. LMPs were sampled seasonally for one year. The polymeric nature of a representative subsample of the collected LMPs was investigated using a portable Raman instrument, to assess the feasibility of in situ characterization. In this study, 26,486 items were sorted by typology (Expanded Polystyrene-EPS, fragments, and resin pellets), size, and for fragments and resin pellets, also by color and chemical nature. Statistical data on the quantity, density, type, spatial distribution, and seasonality of the sampled LMPs are presented. Differences in LMP abundance and composition were detected among sites. A seasonality trend emerges from our statistical analysis, depending on both LMP typology and urbanization degrees of the beaches. Our data do not show the existence of a relationship between the size of the investigated MPs and their color, while they suggest that the type of polymer influences the degree of fragmentation. This underlines the need to further investigate the mechanisms leading to the production and dispersion of MPs in coastal areas, taking into account both the urbanization of the beach, and therefore the possible sources of input, and the different types of MPs. Finally, a Raman portable instrument proved to be a valuable aid in performing in situ polymeric characterization of LMPs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Anthropogenic Impact on Coastal Environments)
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Article
A New Beach Topography-Based Method for Shoreline Identification
Water 2020, 12(11), 3110; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12113110 - 05 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1139
Abstract
The definition of shoreline is not the same for all contexts, and it is often a subjective matter. Various methods exist that are based on the use of different instruments that can determine and highlight a shoreline. In recent years, numerous studies have [...] Read more.
The definition of shoreline is not the same for all contexts, and it is often a subjective matter. Various methods exist that are based on the use of different instruments that can determine and highlight a shoreline. In recent years, numerous studies have employed photogrammetric methods, based on different colours, to map the boundary between water and land. These works use images acquired by satellites, drones, or cameras, and differ mainly in terms of resolution. Such methods can identify a shoreline by means of automatic, semi-automatic, or manual procedures. The aim of this work is to find and promote a new and valid beach topography-based algorithm, able to identify the shoreline. We apply the Structure from Motion (SfM) techniques to reconstruct a high-resolution Digital Elevation Model by means of a drone for image acquisition. The algorithm is based on the variation of the topographic beach profile caused by the transition from water to sand. The SfM technique is not efficient when applied to reflecting surfaces like sea water resulting in a very irregular and unnatural profile over the sea. Taking advantage of this fact, the algorithm searches for the point in the space where a beach profile changes from irregular to regular, causing a transition from water to land. The algorithm is promoted by the release of a QGIS v3.x plugin, which allows the easy application and extraction of other shorelines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Anthropogenic Impact on Coastal Environments)
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Article
Massive Influx of Pelagic Sargassum spp. on the Coasts of the Mexican Caribbean 2014–2020: Challenges and Opportunities
Water 2020, 12(10), 2908; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102908 - 18 Oct 2020
Cited by 34 | Viewed by 3210
Abstract
Since late 2014, the Mexican Caribbean coast has periodically received massive, atypical influxes of pelagic Sargassum spp. (sargasso). Negative impacts associated with these influxes include mortality of nearshore benthic flora and fauna, beach erosion, pollution, decreasing tourism and high management costs. To understand [...] Read more.
Since late 2014, the Mexican Caribbean coast has periodically received massive, atypical influxes of pelagic Sargassum spp. (sargasso). Negative impacts associated with these influxes include mortality of nearshore benthic flora and fauna, beach erosion, pollution, decreasing tourism and high management costs. To understand the dynamics of the sargasso influx, we used Landsat 8 imagery (from 2016 to mid-2020) to record the coverage of sargasso in the sea off the Mexican Caribbean coastline, with a maximum reported in September 2018. Satellite image analysis also showed local differences in the quantity of beached sargasso along the coastline. Over the years, good practice for collection on the beach and for off-shore collection of sargasso have been established through trial and error, and the Mexican Government and hotel industry have spent millions of dollars on removal and off-shore detention of sargasso. Notwithstanding, sargasso also has various properties that could be harnessed in local industries. The stimulation of local industrial growth would offer alternatives to the dependence on tourism, as a circular economy, based on sargasso, is developed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Anthropogenic Impact on Coastal Environments)
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Article
Sedimentological, Mineralogical and Geochemical Features of Late Quaternary Sediment Profiles from the Southern Tuscany Hg Mercury District (Italy): Evidence for the Presence of Pre-Industrial Mercury and Arsenic Concentrations
Water 2020, 12(7), 1998; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12071998 - 14 Jul 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 922
Abstract
Southern Tuscany (Italy) is an important metallogenic district that hosts relevant S-polymetallic deposits that have intensely been exploited for centuries. Consequently, potential toxic elements, such as Hg and As, are widely distributed in the surrounding environment. In this paper, an extensive sedimentological, mineralogical [...] Read more.
Southern Tuscany (Italy) is an important metallogenic district that hosts relevant S-polymetallic deposits that have intensely been exploited for centuries. Consequently, potential toxic elements, such as Hg and As, are widely distributed in the surrounding environment. In this paper, an extensive sedimentological, mineralogical and geochemical study of two Late Quaternary sediment profiles, partially outcropping along the coast of southern Tuscany (Ansedonia area), was carried out to evaluate the contents and mobility of Hg and As with the aims to contribute to the definition of the geochemical baseline of southern Tuscany before the human intervention and evaluate the potential dispersion of these harmful elements. The sedimentological, mineralogical and geochemical (major elements) features revealed that the studied profiles are mostly related to the local geological characteristics and the Quaternary geological history of the area. The concentrations and the normalized patterns of trace and rare earth elements highlighted the absence of any anthropogenic activity. This implies that the studied samples are to be regarded as good proxies for evaluating the geochemical baseline of southern Tuscany before the intense mining activity. The enrichment factors (EF) of most trace elements were indeed lower or close to 2, indicating a variability close to the average concentration of the Upper Continental Crust (UCC), while other elements slightly enriched, such as Pb, were in agreement with the natural baseline reported for southern Tuscany. Mercury and As displayed EF values >40 when compared to the average contents of UCC, although they decrease down to 4 when compared to the suggested baseline for southern Tuscany. The higher Hg and As contents detected in this study, inferred to natural sources, evidenced (i) the great natural variability occurring in largely mineralized areas and (ii) the importance of estimating reference environmental parameters in order to avoid misleading interpretations of the detected anomalies. Moreover, the results of leaching test on sediment samples denoted a relatively low mobility of Hg and As, suggesting that these elements are preferentially mobilized by transport of clastic sediments and such anomalies may be preserved for relatively long times in Quaternary sediments. However, leachable Hg (0.6–9.7 μg/L) and As (2.1–42.2 μg/L) concentrations are significantly high when compared to those of the Italian limit for groundwater (1 µg/L for Hg and 10 µg/L for As). Quaternary sediments from southern Tuscany could then be a potential, though natural, source of Hg and As to groundwater systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Anthropogenic Impact on Coastal Environments)
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Article
Assessing the Cadmium Effects on the Benthic Foraminifer Ammonia cf. parkinsoniana: An Acute Toxicity Test
Water 2020, 12(4), 1018; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12041018 - 02 Apr 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1163
Abstract
Heavy metals are one of the most hazardous pollutants in marine environments because of their bioaccumulation and biomagnification capabilities. Among them, cadmium (Cd) has been considered as one of the most dangerous for marine organisms. Here we incubated Ammonia cf. parkinsoniana specimens, a [...] Read more.
Heavy metals are one of the most hazardous pollutants in marine environments because of their bioaccumulation and biomagnification capabilities. Among them, cadmium (Cd) has been considered as one of the most dangerous for marine organisms. Here we incubated Ammonia cf. parkinsoniana specimens, a benthic foraminiferal taxon used in previous experiments, for up to 48 h in natural seawater with different concentrations of Cd to unravel the physiological change. We document a reduced pseudopodial activity of the Cd-treated specimens at concentrations >10–100 ppb in comparison with the control specimens. Moreover, confocal images of Cd-treated specimens using Nile Red as a fluorescent probe reveal an enhanced intracellular neutral lipid accumulation in the form of lipid droplets at 6 h and 12 h. This bioassay experiment allows for the direct evaluation of Cd-dose to A. cf. parkinsoniana-response relationships under laboratory controlled conditions and provides complementary information to field observations as well as to water quality guidelines and thresholds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Anthropogenic Impact on Coastal Environments)
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