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Impacts of historic morphology and sea level rise on tidal hydrodynamics in a microtidal estuary (Grand Bay, Mississippi)

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    Continental Shelf Research, 111, 150-158.
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Impacts of historic morphology and sea level rise on tidal hydrodynamics in a microtidal estuary (Grand Bay, Mississippi)
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    This study evaluates the geophysical influence of the combined effects of historic sea level rise (SLR) and morphology on tidal hydrodynamics in the Grand Bay estuary, located in the Mississippi Sound. Since 1848, the landscape of the Mississippi Sound has been significantly altered as a result of natural and anthropogenic factors including the migration of the offshore Mississippi-Alabama (MSAL) barrier islands and the construction of navigational channels. As a result, the Grand Bay estuary has undergone extensive erosion resulting in the submergence of its protective barrier island, Grand Batture. A large-domain hydrodynamic model was used to simulate present (circa 2005) and past conditions (circa 1848, 1917, and 1960) with unique sea levels, bathymetry, topography and shorelines representative of each time period. Additionally, a hypothetical scenario was performed in which Grand Batture Island exists under 2005 conditions in order to observe the influence of the island on tidal hydrodynamics within the Grand Bay estuary. Changes in tidal amplitudes from the historic conditions varied. Within the Sound, tidal amplitudes were unaltered due to the open exposed shoreline; however, in semi-enclosed embayments outside of the Sound, tidal amplitudes increased. In addition, harmonic constituent phases were slower historically. The position of the MSAL barrier island inlets influenced tidal currents within the Sound; the westward migration of Petit Bois Island allowed stronger tidal velocities to be centered on the Grand Batture Island. Maximum tidal velocities within the Grand Bay estuary were 5 cm/s faster historically, and reversed from being flood dominant in 1848 to ebb dominant in 2005. If the Grand Batture Island was reconstructed under 2005 conditions, tidal amplitudes and phases would not be altered, indicating that the offshore MSAL barrier islands and SLR have a greater influence on these tidal parameters within the estuary. However, maximum tidal velocities would increase by as much as 5 cm/s (63%) and currents would become more ebb dominant. Results of this study illustrate the hydrodynamic response of the system to SLR and the changing landscape, and provide insight into potential future changes under SLR and barrier island evolution. (C) 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license.
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