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Reflection of Storm Surge and Tides in Convergent Estuaries with Dams, the case of Charleston, USA
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  • Steven Louis Dykstra,
  • Enrica Viparelli,
  • Stefan A Talke,
  • Alexander E Yankovsky,
  • Raymond Torres
Steven Louis Dykstra
University of Alaska Fairbanks

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Enrica Viparelli
University of South Carolina
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Stefan A Talke
California Polytechnic State University
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Alexander E Yankovsky
University of South Carolina
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Raymond Torres
University of South Carolina
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Convergent coastal-plain estuaries have been shortened by dam-like structures worldwide. We used 31 long-term water level stations and a semi-analytical tide model to investigate the influence of a dam and landward-funneling on tides and storm surge propagation in the greater Charleston Harbor region, South Carolina, where three rivers meet: the Ashley, Cooper, and Wando. Our analysis shows that the principle tidal harmonic (M2), storm surge, and long-period setup-setdown (~4–10 days) propagate as long waves with the greatest amplification and celerity observed in the M2 wave. All waves attenuate in landward regions, but, as they approach the dam on the Cooper River, a frequency dependent response in amplitude and phase progression occurs. Dam-induced amplification scales with wave frequency, causing the greatest amplification in M2 overtides. Model results show that funneling and the presence of a dam amplify tidal waves through partial and full reflection, respectively. The different phase progression of these reflected waves, however, can ultimately reduce the total wave amplification. We use a friction-convergence parameter space to demonstrate how amplification is largest for partial reflection, when funneling and wave periods are not extreme (often the case of dominant tides), and for full reflection, when funneling and/or wave periods are small. The analysis also shows that in the case of long period events (>day), such as storm surges, dams may attenuate the wave in funneling estuaries. However, dams may amplify the most intense storm surges (short, high) more than funneling with unexpected consequence that can greatly increase flood exposure.
22 Sep 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
25 Sep 2023Published in ESS Open Archive