May 5, 2015

Sea-level rise and other influences on decadal-scale salinity variability in a coastal plain estuary

Andrew C. Ross, Raymond G. Najjar, Ming Li, Michael E. Mann, Susan E. Ford, Brandon Katz
Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
  • Determines the response of salinity in the Delaware Estuary to climatic variations using statistical models and long-term (1950-present) records of salinity from the U.S. Geological Surveyand the Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory
  • Finds that several locations in the estuary show significant upward trends in salinity
  • Finds insignificant trends at locations that are normally upstream of the salt front
  • The models indicate a positive correlation between rising sea levels and increasing residual salinity, with salinity rising from 2.5 to 4.4 per meter of sea-level rise
  • These results are consistent with results from 1D and dynamical models
  • Finds that wind stress also appears to play some role in driving salinity variations, consistent with its effect on vertical mixing and Ekman transport between the estuary and the ocean
  • The results suggest that continued sea-level rise in the future will cause salinity to increase regardless of any change in streamflow