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  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.

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  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.

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  3. Abstract

    We demonstrate that long‐term tidally induced changes in extreme sea levels affect estimates of major flood hazard in a predictable way. Long‐term variations in tides due to the 4.4 and 18.6‐year cycles influence extreme sea levels at 380 global tide gauges out of a total of 581 analyzed. Results show coherent regions where the amplitudes of the modulations are particularly relevant in the 100‐year return sea level, reaching more than 20 cm in some regions (western Europe, north Australia, and Singapore). We identify locations that are currently in a positive phase of the modulation and therefore at a higher risk of flooding, as well as when (year) the next peak of the long‐term tidal modulations is expected to occur. The timing of the peak of the modulation is spatially coherent and influenced by the relative importance of each cycle (4.4 or 18.6‐year) over the total amplitude. An evaluation of four locations suggests that the potentially flooded area in a 100‐year event can vary up to ∼45% (in Boston) as a result of the long‐term tidal cycles; however, the flooded area varies due to local topography and tidal characteristics (6%–13%). We conclude that tidally modulated changes in extreme sea levels can alter the potentially inundated area in a 100‐year event and that the traditional, fixed 100‐year floodplain is inadequate for describing coastal flood risk, even without considering sea‐level rise.

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  4. 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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  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2024
  6. Abstract. The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on 15 January 2022 provided a rare opportunity to understand global tsunamiimpacts of explosive volcanism and to evaluate future hazards, includingdangers from “volcanic meteotsunamis” (VMTs) induced by the atmosphericshock waves that followed the eruption. The propagation of the volcanic andmarine tsunamis was analyzed using globally distributed 1 min measurementsof air pressure and water level (WL) (from both tide gauges and deep-waterbuoys). The marine tsunami propagated primarily throughout the Pacific,reaching nearly 2 m at some locations, though most Pacific locationsrecorded maximums lower than 1 m. However, the VMT resulting from theatmospheric shock wave arrived before the marine tsunami and propagatedglobally, producing water level perturbations in the Indian Ocean, theMediterranean, and the Caribbean. The resulting water level response of manyPacific Rim gauges was amplified, likely related to wave interaction withbathymetry. The meteotsunami repeatedly boosted tsunami wave energy as itcircled the planet several times. In some locations, the VMT was amplifiedby as much as 35-fold relative to the inverse barometer due to near-Proudmanresonance and topographic effects. Thus, a meteotsunami from a largereruption (such as the Krakatoa eruption of 1883) could yield atmosphericpressure changes of 10 to 30 mb, yielding a 3–10 m near-field tsunami thatwould occur in advance of (usually) larger marine tsunami waves, posingadditional hazards to local populations. Present tsunami warning systems donot consider this threat. 
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  7. Coastal water level measurements represent one of the earliest geophysical measurements and allow an assessment of historical sea level rise and trends in tides, river flow and storm surge. However, recovery and digitization of archival tidal records have been much less widespread and systematic than, for example meteorological records. In this contribution, we discuss data rescue efforts and lessons learned in France, the United States and the United Kingdom, countries with early and extensive tide gauge networks by the mid-19th century. We highlight the importance of (a) cataloguing the historical gauge records, as a first step towards locating them; (b) locating data in archives, and then recovering and saving data by any means necessary, including photographs and scanning; (c) obtaining metadata, including both quantitative survey records, gauge checks and clock data, but also qualitative records such as gauge notes, letters and reports; and (d) quantitative statistical analysis of data and datum quality, using both standard data-entry checks but also tools that leverage the unique predictability of tide measurements. Methods for digitizing original analogue records are also discussed, including semi-automatic, computer-based methods of digitizing tidal charts (marigrams). Although the current best practice is described, future improvements are desirable and needed to make the more than estimated 10,000 station years of unused, undigitized records available to the scientific community. 
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  8. Abstract We address the challenge, due to sparse observational records, of investigating long-term changes in the storm surge climate globally. We use two centennial and three satellite-era daily storm surge time series from the Global Storm Surge Reconstructions (GSSR) database and assess trends in the magnitude and frequency of extreme storm surge events at 320 tide gauges across the globe from 1930, 1950, and 1980 to present. Before calculating trends, we perform change point analysis to identify and remove data where inhomogeneities in atmospheric reanalysis products could lead to spurious trends in the storm surge data. Even after removing unreliable data, the database still extends existing storm surge records by several decades for most of the tide gauges. Storm surges derived from the centennial 20CR and ERA-20C atmospheric reanalyses show consistently significant positive trends along the southern North Sea and the Kattegat Bay regions during the periods from 1930 and 1950 onwards and negative trends since 1980 period. When comparing all five storm surge reconstructions and observations for the overlapping 1980–2010 period we find overall good agreement, but distinct differences along some coastlines, such as the Bay of Biscay and Australia. We also assess changes in the frequency of extreme surges and find that the number of annual exceedances above the 95th percentile has increased since 1930 and 1950 in several regions such as Western Europe, Kattegat Bay, and the US East Coast. 
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  9. This paper describes a major update to the quasi-global, higher-frequency sea-level dataset known as GESLA (Global Extreme Sea Level Analysis). Versions 1 (released 2009) and 2 (released 2016) of the dataset have been used in many published studies, across a wide range of oceanographic and coastal engineering-related investigations concerned with evaluating tides, storm surges, extreme sea levels, and other related processes. The third version of the dataset (released 2021), presented here, contains double the number of years of data, and nearly four times the number of records, compared to Version 2. The dataset consists of records obtained from multiple sources around the world. This paper describes the assembly of the dataset, its processing, and its format, and outlines potential future improvements 
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