Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Increased utilization of storm surge barriers: A research agenda on estuary impacts

March 27, 2023

Rising coastal flood risk and recent disasters are driving interest in the construction of gated storm surge barriers worldwide, with current studies recommending barriers for at least 11 estuaries in the United States alone. Surge barriers partially block estuary-ocean exchange with infrastructure across an estuary or its inlet and include gated areas that are closed only during flood events. They can alter the stratification and salt intrusion, change sedimentary systems, and curtail animal migration and ecosystem connectivity, with impacts growing larger with increasing gate closures. Existing barriers are being used with increasing frequency due to sea level rise. New barrier proposals typically come with maximum closure frequency recommendations, yet the future adherence to them is uncertain. Given that the broader environmental effects and coupled-human dynamics of surge barriers are not well-understood, we present an interdisciplinary research agenda for this increasingly prevalent modification to our coastal zone.

Publication Year 2023
Title Increased utilization of storm surge barriers: A research agenda on estuary impacts
DOI 10.1029/2022EF002991
Authors Philip M. Orton, David K. Ralston, Bram C. van Prooijen, David Secor, Neil K. Ganju, Ziyu Chen, Sarah Fernald, Bennett Brooks, Kristin Marcell
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Earth's Future
Index ID 70242144
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center