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Tidal hydrodynamics under future sea level rise and coastal morphology in the Northern Gulf of Mexico

April 4, 2016

This study examines the integrated influence of sea level rise (SLR) and future morphology on tidal hydrodynamics along the Northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOM) coast including seven embayments and three ecologically and economically significant estuaries. A large-domain hydrodynamic model was used to simulate astronomic tides for present and future conditions (circa 2050 and 2100). Future conditions were simulated by imposing four SLR scenarios to alter hydrodynamic boundary conditions and updating shoreline position and dune heights using a probabilistic model that is coupled to SLR. Under the highest SLR scenario, tidal amplitudes within the bays increased as much as 67% (10.0 cm) because of increases in the inlet cross-sectional area. Changes in harmonic constituent phases indicated that tidal propagation was faster in the future scenarios within most of the bays. Maximum tidal velocities increased in all of the bays, especially in Grand Bay where velocities doubled under the highest SLR scenario. In addition, the ratio of the maximum flood to maximum ebb velocity decreased in the future scenarios (i.e., currents became more ebb dominant) by as much as 26% and 39% in Weeks Bay and Apalachicola, respectively. In Grand Bay, the flood-ebb ratio increased (i.e., currents became more flood dominant) by 25% under the lower SLR scenarios, but decreased by 16% under the higher SLR as a result of the offshore barrier islands being overtopped, which altered the tidal prism. Results from this study can inform future storm surge and ecological assessments of SLR, and improve monitoring and management decisions within the NGOM.

Publication Year 2016
Title Tidal hydrodynamics under future sea level rise and coastal morphology in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
DOI 10.1002/2015EF000332
Authors Davina Passeri, Scott C. Hagen, Nathaniel G. Plant, Matthew V. Bilskie, Stephen C. Medeiros, Karim Alizad
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Earth's Future
Index ID 70168454
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center