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Operational forecasts of wave-driven water levels and coastal hazards for US Gulf and Atlantic coasts

May 23, 2023

Predictions of total water levels, the elevation of combined tides, surge, and wave runup at the shoreline, are necessary to provide guidance on potential coastal erosion and flooding. Despite the importance of early warning systems for these hazards, existing real-time meteorological and oceanographic forecast systems at regional and national scales, until now, have lacked estimates of runup necessary to predict wave-driven overwash and erosion. To address this need, we present an approach that includes wave runup in an operational, national-scale modeling system. Using this system, we quantify the contribution of waves to potential dune erosion events along 4,700 km of U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico sandy coastlines for a one-year period. Dune erosion events were predicted to occur at over 80% of coastal locations, where waves dominated shoreline total water levels, representing 73% of the signal. This shows that models that neglect the wave component underestimate the hazard. This new, national-scale operational modeling system provides communities with timely, local-scale (0.5 km resolution) coastal hazard warnings for all wave conditions, allowing for rapid decision-making related to safety and emergency management. The modeling system also enables continued research into wave-driven processes at a broad range of coastal areas.

Publication Year 2023
Title Operational forecasts of wave-driven water levels and coastal hazards for US Gulf and Atlantic coasts
DOI 10.1038/s43247-023-00817-2
Authors Hilary F Stockdon, Joseph W. Long, Margaret Louise Palmsten, Andre Van der Westhuysen, Kara S. Doran, Richard J. Snell
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Communications Earth & Environment
Index ID 70243854
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center