What is it about?

Flooding due to storms and hurricanes causes massive damage in coastal regions of the world and is made worse by sea level rise (SLR). In fact, SLR leads to changes and a decrease in the distribution of wetlands in low-lying coastal regions, which worsens the damage caused by floods. In recent times, global warming has significantly increased this rise in sea levels. Alarmingly, sea levels along the North Atlantic coasts in the US are rising at a much higher rate than in other regions of the world. The authors of this study quantified the effect of SLR, storm flooding, and the changes in wetlands in the coastal regions of the Chesapeake Bay, which lies on the North Atlantic coast in the US. Through this, they aimed to evaluate the impact of SLR and wetland changes on coastal flooding in the future. To do so, they simulated two historical storms (weak and strong) for current and future scenarios of sea levels and wetland cover. Additionally, they made local SLR projections and simulated flood depths to predict potential property damage and number of people at risk.

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Why is it important?

The findings showed that a low-intensity storm in the future can cause more damage than a high-intensity storm does today. This implies that even weak floods will cause notable damage to property and to the people residing in coastal regions. Moreover, a reduction in wetlands will enhance the damage caused by storm flooding. People residing in the Chesapeake Bay can use this information to develop and modify long-term coastal land development and protection plans. Doing so will help them reduce the future cumulative damage brought about by SLR. KEY TAKEAWAY: This study simulated historical storms to predict the future impact of SLR, storm flooding and reduction in wetlands on coastal regions in the Chesapeake Bay. The findings can be used to develop coastal land protection plans and minimize coastal flood damage in the future.

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This page is a summary of: Quantifying the Impacts of Storm Surge, Sea Level Rise, and Potential Reduction and Changes in Wetlands in Coastal Areas of the Chesapeake Bay Region, Natural Hazards Review, November 2021, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), DOI: 10.1061/(asce)nh.1527-6996.0000505.
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