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The objective of this study was to assess the effect of shoreline retreat and dune erosion on coastal flooding in a case study located in the southern coast of Rhode Island, USA. Using an extensive dataset collected during 2011, an ADCIRC model was developed to simulate the propagation of storm surge in the coastal areas, including coastal inlets and ponds. A simplified methodology, based on the geological assessment of historical trends of the shoreline retreat and dune erosion in this area, was incorporated in the model to represent coastal erosion. The results showed that for extreme storms (e.g., a 100-year event), where coastal dunes are overtopped and low-lying areas are flooded, the flooding extent is not significantly sensitive to coastal erosion. However, failure of the dunes leads to a significant increase of the flooding extent for smaller storms. Substantial dampening of the storm surge elevation in coastal ponds for moderate and small storms was associated with coastal inlets connecting to coastal ponds which are often not resolved in regional surge models. The shoreline change did not significantly affect the extent of flooding. It was also shown that the accuracy of a storm surge model highly depends on its ability to resolve coastal inlets, which is critical for reliable storm surge predictions in areas with inlet-basin systems.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Mohammad Hashemi, Malcolm Spaulding are from the Department of Ocean Engineering.

Christopher Baxter has a dual appointment in the Department of Ocean Engineering and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.