Impact of sea level rise on tidal range in Chesapeake and Delaware Bays
Coastal inundation is affected not only by rising mean sea level but also by changing tides. A numerical model is developed to investigate how sea level rise and coastline changes may impact tides in two coastal-plain estuaries, Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay. Despite their different tidal characteristics, the two estuaries display similar responses to the sea level rise and shoreline management scenarios. When hypothetic sea walls are erected at the present coastline to prevent low-lying land from flooding, tidal range increases, with greater amplification in the upper part of the two estuaries. When low-lying land is allowed to become permanently inundated by higher sea level, however, tidal range in both estuaries decreases. Analyses of the tidal energy budget show that the increased dissipation over the shallow water and newly inundated areas compensates for the reduced dissipation in deep water, leading to smaller tidal range. The changes in the tidal range are not proportional to the changes in the mean sea level, indicating a nonlinear tidal response to sea level rise. The ratio of tidal range change to sea level rise varies between −0.05 and 0.1 in Chesapeake Bay and between −0.2 and 0.25 in Delaware Bay. The model results suggest a potential adaptation strategy that uses inundation over low-lying areas to reduce tidal range at up-estuary locations.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Oceanography not elsewhere classified