skip to main content

Title: Storm tide amplification and habitat changes due to urbanization of a lagoonal estuary
Abstract. In recent centuries, human activities have greatly modified thegeomorphology of coastal regions. However, studies of historical andpossible future changes in coastal flood extremes typically ignore theinfluence of geomorphic change. Here, we quantify the influence of 20th-century man-made changes to Jamaica Bay, New York City, on present-day storm tides. We develop and validate a hydrodynamic model for the 1870s based on detailed maps of bathymetry, seabed characteristics, topography, and tide observations for use alongside a present-day model. Predominantly through dredging, landfill, and inlet stabilization, the average water depth of the bay increased from 1.7 to 4.5 m, tidal surface area decreased from 92 to 72 km2, and the inlet minimum cross-sectional area expanded from 4800 to 8900 m2. Total (freshwater plus salt) marsh habitat area has declined from 61 to 15 km2 and intertidal unvegetated habitat area from 17 to 4.6 km2. A probabilistic flood hazard assessment with simulations of 144 storm events reveals that the landscape changes caused an increase of 0.28 m (12 %) in the 100-year storm tide, even larger than the influence of global sea level rise of about 0.23 m since the 1870s. Specific anthropogenic changes to estuary depth and area as well as inlet depth and width are shown through targeted modeling and dynamics-based considerations to be the most important drivers of increasing storm tides.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1855037 2013280
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences
Page Range / eLocation ID:
2415 to 2432
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    High tide floods (HTFs) are minor, shallow flooding events whose frequency has increased due to relative sea‐level rise (SLR) and secular changes in tides. Here we isolate and examine the role of historical landscape change (geomorphology, land cover) and SLR on tides and HTF frequency in an urbanized lagoonal estuary: Jamaica Bay, New York. The approach involves data archeology, historical (1870s) map digitization, as well as numerical modeling of the bay. Numerical simulations indicate that a century of landscape alterations (e.g., inlet deepening and widening, channel deepening, and wetland reclamation) increased the mean tidal range at the head of the bay by about 20%. The observed historical shift from the attenuation to amplification of semidiurnal tides is primarily associated with reduced tidal damping at the inlet and increased tidal reflection. The 18% decrease in surface area exerts a minor influence. A 1‐year (2020) water level simulation is used to evaluate the effects of both SLR and altered morphology on the annual number of HTFs. Results show that of 15 “minor flood” events in 2020, only one would have occurred without SLR and two without landscape changes since the 1870s. Spectral and transfer function analyses of water level reveal frequency‐dependent fingerprints of landscape change, with a significant decrease in damping for high‐frequency surges and tides (6–18 hr time scale). By contrast, SLR produced only minor effects on frequency‐dependent amplification. Nonetheless, the geomorphic influence on the dynamical response significantly increases the vulnerability of the system to SLR, particularly high‐tide flooding.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Little is known about the effect of tidal changes on minor flooding in most lagoonal estuaries, often due to a paucity of historical records that predate landscape changes. In this contribution, we recover and apply archival tidal range data to show that the mean tidal range in Miami, Florida, has almost doubled since 1900, from 0.32 to 0.61 m today. A likely cause is the dredging of a ∼15 m deep, 150 m wide harbor entrance channel beginning in the early 20th century, which changed northern Biscayne Bay from a choked inlet system to one with a tidal range close to coastal conditions. To investigate the implications for high‐tide flooding, we develop and validate a tidal‐inference based methodology that leverages estimates of pre‐1900 tidal range to obtain historical tidal predictions and constituents. Next, water level predictions that represent historical and modern water level variations are projected forward in time using different sea level rise scenarios. Results show that the historical increase in tidal range hastened the occurrence of present‐day flooding, and that the total integrated number of days with high‐tide floods in the 2020–2100 period will be approximately O(103) more under present day tides compared to pre‐development conditions. These results suggest that tidal change may be a previously under‐appreciated factor in the increasing prevalence of high‐tide flooding in lagoonal estuaries, and our methods open the door to improving our understanding of other heavily‐altered systems.

    more » « less
  3. Site description. This data package consists of data obtained from sampling surface soil (the 0-7.6 cm depth profile) in black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) dominated forest and black needlerush (Juncus roemerianus) saltmarsh along the Gulf of Mexico coastline in peninsular west-central Florida, USA. This location has a subtropical climate with mean daily temperatures ranging from 15.4 °C in January to 27.8 °C in August, and annual precipitation of 1336 mm. Precipitation falls as rain primarily between June and September. Tides are semi-diurnal, with 0.57 m median amplitudes during the year preceding sampling (U.S. NOAA National Ocean Service, Clearwater Beach, Florida, station 8726724). Sea-level rise is 4.0 ± 0.6 mm per year (1973-2020 trend, mean ± 95 % confidence interval, NOAA NOS Clearwater Beach station). The A. germinans mangrove zone is either adjacent to water or fringed on the seaward side by a narrow band of red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle). A near-monoculture of J. roemerianus is often adjacent to and immediately landward of the A. germinans zone. The transition from the mangrove to the J. roemerianus zone is variable in our study area. An abrupt edge between closed-canopy mangrove and J. roemerianus monoculture may extend for up to several hundred meters in some locations, while other stretches of ecotone present a gradual transition where smaller, widely spaced trees are interspersed into the herbaceous marsh. Juncus roemerianus then extends landward to a high marsh patchwork of succulent halophytes (including Salicornia bigellovi, Sesuvium sp., and Batis maritima), scattered dwarf mangrove, and salt pans, followed in turn by upland vegetation that includes Pinus sp. and Serenoa repens. Field design and sample collection. We established three study sites spaced at approximately 5 km intervals along the western coastline of the central Florida peninsula. The sites consisted of the Salt Springs (28.3298°, -82.7274°), Energy Marine Center (28.2903°, -82.7278°), and Green Key (28.2530°, -82.7496°) sites on the Gulf of Mexico coastline in Pasco County, Florida, USA. At each site, we established three plot pairs, each consisting of one saltmarsh plot and one mangrove plot. Plots were 50 m^2 in size. Plots pairs within a site were separated by 230-1070 m, and the mangrove and saltmarsh plots composing a pair were 70-170 m apart. All plot pairs consisted of directly adjacent patches of mangrove forest and J. roemerianus saltmarsh, with the mangrove forests exhibiting a closed canopy and a tree architecture (height 4-6 m, crown width 1.5-3 m). Mangrove plots were located at approximately the midpoint between the seaward edge (water-mangrove interface) and landward edge (mangrove-marsh interface) of the mangrove zone. Saltmarsh plots were located 20-25 m away from any mangrove trees and into the J. roemerianus zone (i.e., landward from the mangrove-marsh interface). Plot pairs were coarsely similar in geomorphic setting, as all were located on the Gulf of Mexico coastline, rather than within major sheltering formations like Tampa Bay, and all plot pairs fit the tide-dominated domain of the Woodroffe classification (Woodroffe, 2002, "Coasts: Form, Process and Evolution", Cambridge University Press), given their conspicuous semi-diurnal tides. There was nevertheless some geomorphic variation, as some plot pairs were directly open to the Gulf of Mexico while others sat behind keys and spits or along small tidal creeks. Our use of a plot-pair approach is intended to control for this geomorphic variation. Plot center elevations (cm above mean sea level, NAVD 88) were estimated by overlaying the plot locations determined with a global positioning system (Garmin GPS 60, Olathe, KS, USA) on a LiDAR-derived bare-earth digital elevation model (Dewberry, Inc., 2019). The digital elevation model had a vertical accuracy of ± 10 cm (95 % CI) and a horizontal accuracy of ± 116 cm (95 % CI). Soil samples were collected via coring at low tide in June 2011. From each plot, we collected a composite soil sample consisting of three discrete 5.1 cm diameter soil cores taken at equidistant points to 7.6 cm depth. Cores were taken by tapping a sleeve into the soil until its top was flush with the soil surface, sliding a hand under the core, and lifting it up. Cores were then capped and transferred on ice to our laboratory at the University of South Florida (Tampa, Florida, USA), where they were combined in plastic zipper bags, and homogenized by hand into plot-level composite samples on the day they were collected. A damp soil subsample was immediately taken from each composite sample to initiate 1 y incubations for determination of active C and N (see below). The remainder of each composite sample was then placed in a drying oven (60 °C) for 1 week with frequent mixing of the soil to prevent aggregation and liberate water. Organic wetland soils are sometimes dried at 70 °C, however high drying temperatures can volatilize non-water liquids and oxidize and decompose organic matter, so 50 °C is also a common drying temperature for organic soils (Gardner 1986, "Methods of Soil Analysis: Part 1", Soil Science Society of America); we accordingly chose 60 °C as a compromise between sufficient water removal and avoidance of non-water mass loss. Bulk density was determined as soil dry mass per core volume (adding back the dry mass equivalent of the damp subsample removed prior to drying). Dried subsamples were obtained for determination of soil organic matter (SOM), mineral texture composition, and extractable and total carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) within the following week. Sample analyses. A dried subsample was apportioned from each composite sample to determine SOM as mass loss on ignition at 550 °C for 4 h. After organic matter was removed from soil via ignition, mineral particle size composition was determined using a combination of wet sieving and density separation in 49 mM (3 %) sodium hexametaphosphate ((NaPO_3)_6) following procedures in Kettler et al. (2001, Soil Science Society of America Journal 65, 849-852). The percentage of dry soil mass composed of silt and clay particles (hereafter, fines) was calculated as the mass lost from dispersed mineral soil after sieving (0.053 mm mesh sieve). Fines could have been slightly underestimated if any clay particles were burned off during the preceding ignition of soil. An additional subsample was taken from each composite sample to determine extractable N and organic C concentrations via 0.5 M potassium sulfate (K_2SO_4) extractions. We combined soil and extractant (ratio of 1 g dry soil:5 mL extractant) in plastic bottles, reciprocally shook the slurry for 1 h at 120 rpm, and then gravity filtered it through Fisher G6 (1.6 μm pore size) glass fiber filters, followed by colorimetric detection of nitrite (NO_2^-) + nitrate (NO_3^-) and ammonium (NH_4^+) in the filtrate (Hood Nowotny et al., 2010,Soil Science Society of America Journal 74, 1018-1027) using a microplate spectrophotometer (Biotek Epoch, Winooski, VT, USA). Filtrate was also analyzed for dissolved organic C (referred to hereafter as extractable organic C) and total dissolved N via combustion and oxidation followed by detection of the evolved CO_2 and N oxide gases on a Formacs HT TOC/TN analyzer (Skalar, Breda, The Netherlands). Extractable organic N was then computed as total dissolved N in filtrate minus extractable mineral N (itself the sum of extractable NH_4-N and NO_2-N + NO_3-N). We determined soil total C and N from dried, milled subsamples subjected to elemental analysis (ECS 4010, Costech, Inc., Valencia, CA, USA) at the University of South Florida Stable Isotope Laboratory. Median concentration of inorganic C in unvegetated surface soil at our sites is 0.5 % of soil mass (Anderson, 2019, Univ. of South Florida M.S. thesis via methods in Wang et al., 2011, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 174, 241-257). Inorganic C concentrations are likely even lower in our samples from under vegetation, where organic matter would dilute the contribution of inorganic C to soil mass. Nevertheless, the presence of a small inorganic C pool in our soils may be counted in the total C values we report. Extractable organic C is necessarily of organic C origin given the method (sparging with HCl) used in detection. Active C and N represent the fractions of organic C and N that are mineralizable by soil microorganisms under aerobic conditions in long-term soil incubations. To quantify active C and N, 60 g of field-moist soil were apportioned from each composite sample, placed in a filtration apparatus, and incubated in the dark at 25 °C and field capacity moisture for 365 d (as in Lewis et al., 2014, Ecosphere 5, art59). Moisture levels were maintained by frequently weighing incubated soil and wetting them up to target mass. Daily CO_2 flux was quantified on 29 occasions at 0.5-3 week intervals during the incubation period (with shorter intervals earlier in the incubation), and these per day flux rates were integrated over the 365 d period to compute an estimate of active C. Observations of per day flux were made by sealing samples overnight in airtight chambers fitted with septa and quantifying headspace CO_2 accumulation by injecting headspace samples (obtained through the septa via needle and syringe) into an infrared gas analyzer (PP Systems EGM 4, Amesbury, MA, USA). To estimate active N, each incubated sample was leached with a C and N free, 35 psu solution containing micronutrients (Nadelhoffer, 1990, Soil Science Society of America Journal 54, 411-415) on 19 occasions at increasing 1-6 week intervals during the 365 d incubation, and then extracted in 0.5 M K_2SO_4 at the end of the incubation in order to remove any residual mineral N. Active N was then quantified as the total mass of mineral N leached and extracted. Mineral N in leached and extracted solutions was detected as NH_4-N and NO_2-N + NO_3-N via colorimetry as above. This incubation technique precludes new C and N inputs and persistently leaches mineral N, forcing microorganisms to meet demand by mineralizing existing pools, and thereby directly assays the potential activity of soil organic C and N pools present at the time of soil sampling. Because this analysis commences with disrupting soil physical structure, it is biased toward higher estimates of active fractions. Calculations. Non-mobile C and N fractions were computed as total C and N concentrations minus the extractable and active fractions of each element. This data package reports surface-soil constituents (moisture, fines, SOM, and C and N pools and fractions) in both gravimetric units (mass constituent / mass soil) and areal units (mass constituent / soil surface area integrated through 7.6 cm soil depth, the depth of sampling). Areal concentrations were computed as X × D × 7.6, where X is the gravimetric concentration of a soil constituent, D is soil bulk density (g dry soil / cm^3), and 7.6 is the sampling depth in cm. 
    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    Gated storm surge barriers are being studied by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for coastal storm risk management for the New York City metropolitan area. Surge barrier gates are only closed when storm tides exceeding a specific “trigger” water level might occur in a storm. Gate closure frequency and duration both strongly influence the physical and environmental effects on enclosed estuaries. In this paper, we use historical observations to represent future storm tide hazard, and we superimpose local relative sea-level rise (SLR) to study the potential future changes to closure frequency and duration. We account for the effects of forecast uncertainty on closures, using a relationship between past storm surge and forecast uncertainty from an operational ensemble forecast system. A concern during a storm surge is that closed gates will trap river streamflow and could cause a new problem with trapped river water flooding. Similarly, we evaluate this possibility using historical data to represent river flood hazard, complemented by hydrodynamic model simulations to capture how waters rise when a hypothetical barrier is closed. The results show that SLR causes an exponential increase of the gate closure frequency, a lengthening of the closure duration, and a rising probability of trapped river water flooding. The USACE has proposed to prevent these SLR-driven increases by periodically raising the trigger water level (e.g., to match a prescribed storm return period). However, this alternative management approach for dealing with SLR requires waterfront seawalls to be raised at a high, and ongoing, additional future expense. For seawalls, costs and benefits will likely need to be weighed on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, and in some cases retreat or other non-structural options may be preferable. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Coastal wetlands represent an ecotone between ocean and terrestrial ecosystems, providing important services, including flood mitigation, fresh water supply, erosion control, carbon sequestration, and wildlife habitat. The environmental setting of a wetland and the hydrological connectivity between a wetland and adjacent terrestrial and aquatic systems together determine wetland hydrology. Yet little is known about regional‐scale hydrological interactions among uplands, coastal wetlands, and coastal processes, such as tides, sea level rise, and saltwater intrusion, which together control the dynamics of wetland hydrology. This study presents a new regional‐scale, physically based, distributed wetland hydrological model, PIHM‐Wetland, which integrates the surface and subsurface hydrology with coastal processes and accounts for the influence of wetland inundation on energy budgets and evapotranspiration (ET). The model was validated using in situ hydro‐meteorological measurements and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) ET data for a forested and herbaceous wetland in North Carolina, USA, which confirmed that the model accurately represents the major wetland hydrological behaviours. Modelling results indicate that topographic gradient is a primary control of groundwater flow direction in adjacent uplands. However, seasonal climate patterns become the dominant control of groundwater flow at lower coastal plain and land–ocean interface. We found that coastal processes largely influence groundwater table (GWT) dynamics in the coastal zone, 300 to 800 m from the coastline in our study area. Among all the coastal processes, tides are the dominant control on GWT variation. Because of inundation, forested and herbaceous wetlands absorb an additional 6% and 10%, respectively, of shortwave radiation annually, resulting in a significant increase in ET. Inundation alters ET partitioning through canopy evaporation, transpiration, and soil evaporation, the effect of which is stronger in cool seasons than in warm seasons. The PIHM‐Wetland model provides a new tool that improves the understanding of wetland hydrological processes on a regional scale. Insights from this modelling study provide benchmarks for future research on the effects of sea level rise and climate change on coastal wetland functions and services.

    more » « less