A high spatial resolution storm surge model was developed for the YK Delta area to assess biological impacts of storm surges under current and future climates. Storm surges are expected to be more frequent and more severe in the YK Delta area due to climate change and sea level rise. The biological impacts in the YK Delta due to the changed storm surges could be extreme.
The model was assessed with respect to measured water level data at the coast and, where available, spatial extent of inundation, for 6 storms from the period 1992 to 2011. In total, inundation projections from 9 historical storms (5 from the assessment + 4 others) were developed. For each storm, an spatial inundation index (time-integral of water level during a storm) was calculated. These were combined across the storms, along with storm recurrence interval estimates, to form an annual inundation index. The spatial distribution of the inundation index was strongly associated with mapped vegetation type. The storm simulations were repeated under 3 scenarios of relative sea level rise to investigate potential future inundation levels.
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