Changes in tidal datums and seasonal distribution of water levels in coastal Delaware

Authors: John Callahan*, University of Delaware, Delaware Geological Survey
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Coastal and Marine, Natural Resources
Keywords: coastal storms, coastal flooding, storm surge, tidal data, saltmarsh
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Stones Throw 1 - Granite, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Delaware and the U.S. Mid-Atlantic states are well-known for being severely impacted by coastal storms, particularly the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962, the Mother’s Day Storm of 2008, and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, among others. Strong winds and waves, high water levels from storm surge, and heavy precipitation can degrade agricultural lands, erode beaches and wetlands, cause significant damage to public and private infrastructure, and put human safety at risk in this highly populated region. Due to the geographic location in the mid-latitudes along the western boundary of the Atlantic Ocean basin, this area frequently experiences both tropical and extra-tropical storm systems as well as anomalously high rates of relative sea level rise. Delaware is especially vulnerable to the effects of coastal storms as a large percentage of its economy is based on coastal tourism and other recreational and commercial activities. A comprehensive representation of current conditions and recently observed changes in the behavior of coastal flooding is important to understanding future conditions. This presentation will focus on tidal datums (e.g., mean sea level, mean higher-high water, mean lower-low water), inundation-duration-frequency behavior, and seasonal distribution of water levels at gaged sites in differing environments (along the coastal Atlantic Ocean, the Delaware Bay, and the marshes of Delaware) and how these have changed over the past 20-30 years.

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