Meeting:Abstract 2011 CSDMS meeting-071
Numerical Modeling of the Impact of Wetlands on Hurricane Storm Surge in Coastal Bays
[[Image:|300px|right|link=File:]]Texas has historically faced severe hurricanes with Ike being the most recent major storm example. It is believed that coastal wetlands might reduce the impact of the storm surge on coastal areas, acting as a natural protection against hurricane flooding, especially for small hurricanes and tropical storms. Numerical analysis is an important instrument for predicting and simulating the flooding extent and magnitude in coastal areas. In recent years, improvements on the understanding of the physics of storm surges have led to the development of physically based numerical models capable of reasonably representing the storm surges caused from hurricanes. Wetlands are represented in the numerical model through their influence on the frictional resistance proprieties and bathymetric changes. To characterize the wetland types and their spatial distribution along the coast, we used six different land use databases from the National Land Cover Dataset (NLCD) (1992, 2001), the National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) (1993) and the Coastal Change Analysis Program (C-CAP) (1996, 2001, 2006). The analyses was conducted for Corpus Christi Bay using a pre-validated, physically based, hydrodynamic model (ADCIRC) and a wind and pressure field model (PBL) representing the physical properties of historical hurricane Bret. The calculations were performed using an unstructured numerical grid with 3.3 million nodes covering part of the Atlantic Ocean and the entire Gulf of Mexico (resolution from 2000 km to 50 meters at the coast). Considering the expected rise in the mean sea level, wetland composition and spatial distribution are also expected to change as the environmental conditions change along the coast. We analyzed a range of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections for sea level rise (SLR) to simulate wetland alterations and evaluate their impact on hurricane storm surge. The wetland degradation by SLR was spatially simulated using empirical relations for water levels/tides and ecosystem resilience. The choice of wetland database resulted in surge variations of less than 0.1 m in locations inside Corpus Bay. Preliminary studies considering IPCC scenarios (B1, A1F1, B1FI) for 2030 and 2080 plus predicted local subsidence showed that, although the SLR scenarios for 2030 did not affect surge considerably inside the bay (SLR increase removed after simulation), the greater degradation of the wetlands caused by SLR on the 2080 scenarios (0.80 m SLR + subsidence) resulted in surges on the order of 0.3 m higher for Hurricane Bret in selected locations. Future work includes performing analyses using different storm conditions (forward speed, central pressure and storm radius), additional and less conservative SLR scenarios, damage assessment and also include the effects of waves using the coupled version of ADCIRC with UNSWAN.