Characterizing the Non-linear Interactions Between Tide, Storm Surge, and River Flow in the Delaware Bay Estuary, United States

Ziyu Xiao, Zhaoqing Yang, Taiping Wang, Ning Sun, Mark Wigmosta and David Judi

DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2021.715557


Low-lying coastal areas in the mid-Atlantic region are prone to compound flooding resulting from the co-occurrence of river floods and coastal storm surges. To better understand the contribution of non-linear tide-surge-river interactions to compound flooding, the unstructured-grid Finite Volume Community Ocean Model was applied to simulate coastal storm surge and flooding in the Delaware Bay Estuary in the United States. The model was validated with tide gauge data in the estuary for selected hurricane events. Non-linear interactions between tide-surge-river were investigated using a non-stationary tidal analysis method, which decomposes the interactions’ components at the frequency domain. Model results indicated that tide-river interactions damped semidiurnal tides, while the tide-surge interactions mainly influenced diurnal tides. Tide-river interactions suppressed the water level upstream while tide-surge interaction increased the water level downstream, which resulted in a transition zone of damping and enhancing effects where the tide-surge-river interaction was prominent. Evident compound flooding was observed as a result of non-linear tide-surge-river interactions. Furthermore, sensitivity analysis was carried out to evaluate the effect of river flooding on the non-linear interactions. The transition zone of damping and enhancing effects shifted downstream as the river flow rate increased.

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