The Potential of Wetlands in Reducing Storm Surge
ENGINEER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER VICKSBURG MS COASTAL AND HYDRAULICS LAB
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A critical component of flood protection in some coastal areas is expected to be the potential contribution of wetlands to the lowering of surges as they propagate inland from the coast. Consequently, an accurate method to quantify the effect of wetlands on coastal surge levels is required. The degree to which wetlands attenuate surge is the subject of debate and difficult to assess. The potential of wetlands to reduce storm surge has typically been expressed as a constant attenuation rate, but the relationship is much more complex. A numerical storm surge model was applied to assess the sensitivity of surge response to specified wetland loss. Results suggest that wetlands do have the potential to reduce surges but the magnitude of attenuation is dependent on the surrounding coastal landscape and the strength and duration of the storm forcing. Numerical models that simulate the relevant physical processes can provide valuable information on how to best integrate wetlands into coastal protection plans. However, while the model applied for this study has displayed skill in estimating surges over wetlands, the formulations are missing key processes and model advancements are necessary.