Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Geophysical Research Letters
Recent studies have focused on the effect of large tropical cyclones (hurricanes) on the shore, neglecting the role of less intense but more frequent events. Here we analyze the effect of the offshore tropical storm Melissa on groundwater data collected along the North America Atlantic coast. Our meta-analysis indicates that both groundwater level and specific conductivity significantly increased during Melissa, respectively reaching maximum values of 1.09 m and 25.2 mS/cm above pre-storm levels. Time to recover to pre-storm levels was 10 times greater for groundwater specific conductivity, with a median value of 20 days, while groundwater level had a median recovery time of 2 days. A frequency-magnitude analysis indicates that the percent of time with salinization is higher for Melissa than for energetic hurricanes. Given the high frequency of these events (return period of 1–2 years), and the long time needed for groundwater conditions to return to normal levels, we conclude that increasingly frequent moderate storms will have a significant impact on the ecology of vegetated shorelines.
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Nordio, Giovanna; Frederiks, Ryan; Hingst, Mary; Carr, Joel; Kirwan, Matthew L.; and et al, Frequent Storm Surges Affect the Groundwater of Coastal Ecosystems (2023). Geophysical Research Letters, 50(e2022GL100191).