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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 07 Jan 2019

Research article | 07 Jan 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

The Effects of Changing Climate on Estuarine Water Levels: A United States Pacific Northwest Case Study

Kai Parker1, David Hill1, Gabriel García-Medina2, and Jordan Beamer3 Kai Parker et al.
  • 1School of Civil and Construction Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis Oregon, 97330, USA
  • 2Marine Sciences Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Seattle Washington, 98109, USA
  • 3Oregon Water Resources Department, Salem Oregon, 97301, USA

Abstract. Climate change impacts to extreme water levels (WLs) at two United States Pacific Northwest estuaries are investigated using a multi-component process-based modeling framework. The integrated impact of climate change on estuarine forcing is considered using a series of sub-models that track changes to oceanic, atmospheric, and hydrologic controls on hydrodynamics. This modeling framework is run at decadal scales for historic and future periods with changes to extreme WLs quantified across the two study sites. It is found that there is spatial variability in extreme WLs at both study sites with all recurrence interval events increasing with further distance into the estuary. This spatial variability is found to increase for the 100-year event moving into the future. It is found that the full effect of sea level rise is mitigated by a decrease in forcing. Short recurrence interval events are less buffered and therefore more impacted by sea level rise than higher return interval events. Finally, results show that annual extremes at the study sites are defined by compound events with a variety of forcing contributing to high WLs.

Kai Parker et al.
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Status: open (extended)
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Kai Parker et al.
Kai Parker et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Our ability to manage estuaries is currently limited by a poor understanding of how they will evolve into the future. This study explores flooding conditions at two U.S. Pacific estuaries as controlled by changing climate. The hazard is characterized using a variety of models that track oceanic, atmospheric, and hydrologic forcing at decadal scales. It is found that flood surface height varies significantly across estuaries and can be expected to change in complex ways moving into the future.
Our ability to manage estuaries is currently limited by a poor understanding of how they will...