Impacts of Sea Level Rise and Morphological Changes on Tidal Hydrodynamics in the Northern Gulf of Mexico

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Davina Lisa Passeri1, Scott C Hagen2, Nathaniel G Plant3 and Matthew V Bilskie1, (1)University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, United States, (2)Univ Central Florida, Orlando, FL, United States, (3)U.S Geological Survey, Coastal and Marine Science Center, Saint Petersburg, FL, United States
Sea level rise (SLR) threatens coastal environments with increased erosion, inundation of wetlands, and changes in hydrodynamic patterns. Planning for the effects of SLR requires understanding the coupled response of SLR, geomorphic and hydrodynamic processes; this will provide crucial information for managers to make informed decisions for human and natural communities. Evaluating changes in tidal hydrodynamics under future scenarios is a key aspect for understanding the effects of SLR on coastal systems; tidal hydrodynamics influence inundation, circulation patterns, sediment transport processes, shoreline erosion, and productivity of marshes and other species.

This study evaluates the dynamic effects of SLR and morphologic change on tidal hydrodynamics along the Northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOM) coast from Mississippi to the Florida panhandle. A large-scale hydrodynamic model is used to simulate astronomic tides under present (circa 2005), and future conditions (circa 2050 and 2100). The model is modified with specific SLR scenarios, morphology, and shorelines that represent the conditions at each of the time periods. Future sea levels for the years 2050 and 2100 are determined using the Parris et al. (2012) projections. To make projections of future morphology, a Bayesian Network (BN) is implemented. The BN is used to define relationships between forcing mechanisms and coastal responses based on long-term relative SLR, mean wave height, long-term shoreline change rates, mean tidal range, geomorphic setting and coastal slope. Probabilistic predictions of future shoreline positions and dune heights are developed for each SLR scenario for the years 2050 and 2100. The Digital Elevation Model (DEM) is then updated to reflect the future morphologic changes.

Comparison of present and future conditions illustrates the hydrodynamic response of the system to the changing landscape. Changes in variables such as harmonic tidal constituents, tidal range, tidal prism, tidal datums, circulation patterns and inundation areas are examined. This provides a better understanding of the physical processes of the current state of the NGOM and gives insight into how future SLR and coastal landscape changes may affect hydrodynamics within the NGOM estuary systems.