Sun Qiang

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  • Article
    Contributions of different sea-level processes to high-tide flooding along the US coastline
    (American Geophysical Union, 2022-07-14) Li, Sida ; Wahl, Thomas ; Barroso, Amanda ; Coats, Sloan ; Dangendorf, Sönke ; Piecuch, Christopher G. ; Sun, Qiang ; Thompson, Philip R. ; Liu, Lintao
    Coastal communities across the United States (U.S.) are experiencing an increase in the frequency of high-tide flooding (HTF). This increase is mainly due to sea-level rise (SLR), but other factors such as intra- to inter-annual mean sea level variability, tidal anomalies, and non-tidal residuals also contribute to HTF events. Here we introduce a novel decomposition approach to develop and then analyze a new database of different sea-level components. Those components represent processes that act on various timescales to contribute to HTF along the U.S. coastline. We find that the relative importance of components to HTF events strongly varies in space and time. Tidal anomalies contribute the most along the west and northeast coasts, where HTF events mostly occur in winter. Non-tidal residuals are most important along the Gulf of Mexico and mid-Atlantic coasts, where HTF events mostly occur in fall. We also quantify the minimum number of components that were required to cause HTF events in the past and how this number changed over time. The results highlight that at present, due to SLR, fewer components are needed to combine to push water levels above HTF thresholds, but tidal anomalies alone are still not sufficient to reach HTF thresholds in most locations. Finally, we explore how co-variability between different components leads to compounding effects. In some places, positive correlation between sea-level components leads to significantly more HTF events than would be expected if sea-level components were uncorrelated, whereas in other places negative correlation leads to fewer HTF events.