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Title: Vertical Saltwater Intrusion in Coastal Aquifers Driven by Episodic Flooding: A Review
Abstract

Low‐elevation coastal areas are increasingly vulnerable to seawater flooding as sea levels rise and the frequency and intensity of large storms increase with climate change. Seawater flooding can lead to the salinization of fresh coastal aquifers by vertical saltwater intrusion (SWI). Vertical SWI is often overlooked in coastal zone threat assessments despite the risk it poses to critical freshwater resources and salt‐intolerant ecosystems that sustain coastal populations. This review synthesizes field and modeling approaches for investigating vertical SWI and the practical and theoretical understanding of salinization and flushing processes obtained from prior studies. The synthesis explores complex vertical SWI dynamics that are influenced by density‐dependent flow and oceanic, hydrologic, geologic, climatic, and anthropogenic forcings acting on coastal aquifers across spatial and temporal scales. Key knowledge gaps, management challenges, and research opportunities are identified to help advance our understanding of the vulnerability of fresh coastal groundwater. Past modeling studies often focus on idealized aquifer systems, and thus future work could consider more diverse geologic, climatic, and topographic environments. Concurrent field and modeling programs should be sustained over time to capture interactions between physical processes, repeated salinization and flushing events, and delayed aquifer responses. Finally, this review highlights the need for improved coordination and knowledge translation across disciplines (e.g., coastal engineering, hydrogeology, oceanography, social science) to gain a more holistic understanding of vertical SWI. There also needs to be more education of communities, policy makers, and managers to motivate societal action to address coastal groundwater vulnerability in a changing climate.

 
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Award ID(s):
2012484
NSF-PAR ID:
10382364
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Water Resources Research
Volume:
58
Issue:
11
ISSN:
0043-1397
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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