Document Type

Report

Department/Program

Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date

2011

Series

USGS Open-File Report 2011-1191

Abstract

As a result of climate change and variability, sea level is rising throughout the world, but the rate along the east coast of the United States is higher than the global mean rate. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the City of Newport News, Virginia, conducted a study to evaluate the effects of possible future sea-level rise on the salinity front in two tributaries to Chesapeake Bay, the York River, and the Chickahominy/ James River estuaries. Numerical modeling was used to represent sea-level rise and the resulting hydrologic effects. Estuarine models for the two tributaries were developed and model simulations were made by use of the Three-Dimensional Hydrodynamic-Eutrophication Model (HEM-3D), developed by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. HEM- 3D was used to simulate tides, tidal currents, and salinity for Chesapeake Bay, the York River and the Chickahominy/James River. The three sea-level rise scenarios that were evaluated showed an increase of 30, 50, and 100 centimeters (cm).

Model results for both estuaries indicated that high freshwater river flow was effective in pushing the salinity back toward Chesapeake Bay. Model results indicated that increases in mean salinity will greatly alter the existing waterquality gradients between brackish water and freshwater. This will be particularly important for the freshwater part of the Chickahominy River, where a drinking-water-supply intake for the City of Newport News is located. more....

Keywords

Sea-level rise, salinity

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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