Preston Spicer, Pascal Matte, Kimberly Huguenard, and Laura N. Rickard, 2021. “Coastal windstorms create unsteady, unpredictable storm surges in a fluvial Maine estuary”, Shore & Beach, 89(2), 3-10.
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Coastal windstorms create unsteady, unpredictable storm surges in a fluvial Maine estuary
Preston Spicer(1), Pascal Matte(2), Kimberly Huguenard(1), and Laura N. Rickard(3)
1) Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maine, Orono, ME, USA.
2) Meteorological Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Québec City, Québec, Canada
3) Department of Communication and Journalism, University of Maine, Orono, ME, USA.
Corresponding author: P. Spicer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Storm surges create coastal flooding that can be damaging to life and property. In estuaries with significant river influence (fluvial), it is possible for tides, storm surge, and river discharge to interact and enhance surges relative to the immediate coast. These tide-surge-river interactions were previously identified in a fluvial Maine estuary as higher frequency (>four cycles per day) oscillations to storm surge which were proposed to be incited by enhanced friction and resonance during certain windstorm events (Spicer et al. 2019). The relative contributions to tide-surge-river interaction from atmospheric forcing variables (wind, barometric pressure, and externally generated surge) remains unclear. This work seeks to decompose and analyze a recent windstorm surge event to better isolate the effects of atmospheric forcing on tidesurge- river interaction. Results show total storm surges in the fluvial estuary to be two times larger than at the estuary mouth because of tide-surge-river interaction. Analysis indicated at least 50% of the magnitude of tide-surge-river interactions are created by non-tidal forcing, in the form of wind, enhancing frictional energy in the estuary. The remaining tide-surge-river interaction is likely a result of changes in tidal wave propagation speed due to surge deepening the mean estuary water level.