The Study of the Hurricane-Induced Storm Surge and Bay-Ocean Exchange Using a Nesting Model


Lagoon systems are more heavily impacted by hurricanes, whereas the relevant storm surge modeling studies have been paid little attention to lagoon systems and the storm-induced exchange in lagoon systems is even less understood. To address this gap, a three-dimensional unstructured grid-based model was configured for the Maryland Coastal Bays, a typical lagoon system with two unique inlets (Ocean City Inlet (OCI) and Chincoteague Inlet (CI)), to investigate how Hurricane Sandy impacted inlet dynamics. A nesting model framework was applied to provide the necessary remote forcing from a large model domain and maintain the intricate shoreline and bathymetry of an inner model domain. Results indicated that the flux patterns varied in response to the change in wind direction and rising/falling high water levels from the coastal ocean, rather than a single flow pattern during the passage of Sandy. From October 29 05:00 to 17:00 UTC, mild (> 10 m/s) and strong (> 15 m/s) northerly winds accompanied by the rising high water level from the coastal ocean promoted a mean inflow pattern at the OCI and a mean outflow pattern at the CI. Strong southwesterly winds (> 15 m/s) dominated in the bays from October 30 03:00 to 15:00 UTC. Under strong southwesterly winds and falling high water levels from the coastal ocean, flux was transported landward at the CI and seaward at the OCI. Sensitivity experiments on various storm temporal scales showed that a net inflow pattern occurred in the bays, and the net exchange amounts became smaller in response to longer storm durations. Residual effect of relatively high river flow from Sandy could still influence the salinity at the OCI, whereas the CI salinity was not affected by river flow owing to a long distance between the CI and river locations.

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Numerical simulation was carried out on Cheyenne (support to X. Kang) of the Computational & Information Systems Lab. Observational data were all obtained from MD-DNR and NOAA/National Ocean Science. We thank Eyes on the Bay team for sharing the observed pressure sensor data with us. We also thank Drs. Neil Kamal Ganju and Alexis Beudin (USGS, Woods Hole) for consulting the NAM wind source. The constructive comments from two editors Drs. Norb Psuty and Amanda Babson and two anonymous reviewers are kindly appreciated and helped to improve this manuscript.

Funding Information

This work is partially supported by National Science Foundation Nos. 1547821 and 1856630.

Author information

Correspondence to Meng Xia.

Additional information

Communicated by Nathan Waltham

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Kang, X., Xia, M. The Study of the Hurricane-Induced Storm Surge and Bay-Ocean Exchange Using a Nesting Model. Estuaries and Coasts (2020) doi:10.1007/s12237-020-00695-3

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  • Maryland Coastal Bays
  • Hurricane Sandy
  • Model nesting
  • Inlets
  • Flux dynamics
  • Salinity