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  1. Abstract

    Subsidence after a subduction zone earthquake can cause major changes in estuarine bathymetry. Here, we quantify the impacts of earthquake‐induced subsidence on hydrodynamics and habitat distributions in a major system, the lower Columbia River Estuary, using a hydrodynamic and habitat model. Model results indicate that coseismic subsidence increases tidal range, with the smallest changes at the coast and a maximum increase of ∼10% in a region of topographic convergence. All modeled scenarios reduce intertidal habitat by 24%–25% and shifts ∼93% of estuarine wetlands to lower‐elevation habitat bands. Incorporating dynamic effects of tidal change from subsidence yields higher estimates of remaining habitat by multiples of 0–3.7, dependent on the habitat type. The persistent tidal change and chronic habitat disturbance after an earthquake poses strong challenges for estuarine management and wetland restoration planning, particularly when coupled with future sea‐level rise effects.

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  2. 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.

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  4. 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.

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  6. Abstract

    We develop idealized analytical and numerical models to study how storm surge amplitudes vary within frictional, weakly convergent, nonreflective estuaries. Friction is treated using Chebyshev polynomials. Storm surge is represented as the sum of two sinusoidal components, and a third constituent represents the semidiurnal tide (D2). An empirical fit of storm surge shows that two sinusoidal components adequately represent storm surge above a baseline value (R2 = 0.97). We find that the spatial transformation of surge amplitudes depends on the depth of the estuary, and characteristics of the surge wave including time scale, amplitude, asymmetry, and surge‐tide relative phase. Analytical model results indicate that surge amplitude decays more slowly (largere‐folding) in a deeper channel for all surge time scales (12–72 hr). Deepening of an estuary results in larger surge amplitudes. Sensitivity studies show that surges with larger primary amplitudes (or shorter time scales) damp faster than those with smaller amplitudes (or larger time scales). Moreover, results imply that there is a location with maximum sensitivity to altered depth, offshore surge amplitude, and time scale and that the location of observed maximum change in surge amplitude along an estuary of simple form moves upstream when depth is increased. Further, the relative phase of surge to tide and surge asymmetry can change the spatial location of maximum change in surge. The largest change due to increased depth occurs for a large surge with a short time scale. The results suggest that both sea level rise and channel deepening may also alter surge amplitudes.

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  7. Abstract

    Since the early twentieth century, the amplitudes of tidal constituents in the Gulf of Maine and Bay of Fundy display clear secular trends that are among the largest anywhere observed for a regional body of water. The M2amplitude at Eastport, Maine, increased at a rate of 14.1 ± 1.2 cm per century until it temporarily dropped during 1980–1990, apparently in response to changes in the wider North Atlantic. Annual tidal analyses indicate M2reached an all‐time high amplitude last year (2018). Here we report new estimates of tides derived from nineteenth century water‐level measurements found in the U.S. National Archives. Results from Eastport, Portland, and Pulpit Harbor (tied to Bar Harbor) donotfollow the twentieth century trends and indicate that the Gulf of Maine tide changes commenced sometime in the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries, coincident with a transition to modern rates of sea‐level rise as observed at Boston and Portland. General agreement is that sea level rise alone is insufficient to cause the twentieth‐century tide changes. A role for ocean stratification is suggested by the long‐term warming of Gulf of Maine waters; archival water temperatures at Boston, Portland, and Eastport show increases of ∼2 °C since the 1880s. In addition, a changing seasonal dependence in M2amplitudes is reflected in a changing seasonal dependence in water temperatures. The observations suggest that models seeking to reproduce Gulf of Maine tides must consider both sea level rise and long‐term changes in stratification.

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  8. Abstract

    Few tidal records are available pre‐1900 for the Pacific Ocean. We improve data coverage by recovering historical tabulations and digitizing analog tide rolls from Astoria, Oregon, for 1853–1876. Nearly 13,500 overlapping images of tides from 1855–1870 were digitized at a 6 min resolution using a line‐finding algorithm. Available hourly and high/low tabulations were also digitized, as were nearby hourly records from 1933 to 1943. Uncertainty was assessed by evaluating manual staff measurements, historical documents, and leveling surveys. Results suggest that uncertainty in mean sea level varies from ±0.07 m (early 1850s) to ±0.03 m (1867–1876) and is driven primarily by datum and benchmark uncertainty, rather than measurement precision, data reduction procedures, or hydrodynamic changes. We also corrected an up‐to 0.05 m error in the 1925–1960 tidal datum at Astoria. Harmonic analysis shows that major tidal constituents increased by up to 7% between 1855 and 2018. Mean tidal range increased by 0.1 m (5%), with more change occurring in July (0.17 m larger) than winter (0.07 m larger). By contrast, sea level increased most in winter and least in spring/summer. Tidally based estimates of river discharge suggest that these observations are caused by a ~50% reduction in peak spring discharge and a 30–60% increase in winter discharge. No evidence of altered upwelling is found. Overall, Astoria relative sea level (RSL) increased by 0.06 m ± 0.04 m since the 1858–1876 epoch or, after accounting for vertical land motion, 0.11 ± 0.09 m. Consistent with GNSS measurements, RSL has dropped near the estuary mouth since 1905, indicating a strong tectonic influence.

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