Publication Abstracts

Orton et al. 2015

Orton, P., S. Vinogradov, N. Georgas, A. Blumberg, N. Lin, V. Gornitz, C. Little, K. Jacob, and R. Horton, 2015: New York City Panel on Climate Change 2015 Report: Dynamic coastal flood modeling. Ann. New York Acad. Sci., 1336, 56-66, doi:10.1111/nyas.12589.

Storm surge is an increase in water level caused by winds and low atmospheric pressure and combines with tides to form the total water elevation during a storm, also known as the storm tide or stillwater elevation. Storm tides are among the world's most costly and deadly hazards, bringing floodwaters and waves capable of damaging and disabling infrastructure, homes, and property, as well as threatening human life and health. Sea level rise in the New York metropolitan region has already been increasing the number of coastal flood events (see e.g., Colle et al., 2010; Sweet et al., 2013; Talke et al., 2014). Coastal flood heights are projected to increase and coastal flood zones to expand as sea levels continue to rise due to climate change.

Until now, the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) has utilized a static mapping approach to assess future costal flood hazards (see NPCC, 2010; 2013; 2015). One assumption of static mapping is that the flood elevation is spatially uniform over inland flood areas, although peak water elevation for a major hurricane can have strong spatial variations (Fig. 4.1), potentially violating this assumption. In this chapter, the second NPCC (NPCC2) advances these methods by testing the use of a dynamic model that explicitly accounts for more of the forces acting on the water and the resulting water movement. The NPCC2 has undertaken dynamic modeling of future coastal flooding based on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) flood-mapping framework, which includes the effects of tides, storm surge, and wave setup (see Chapter 3, Box 3.1, NPCC, 2015) on water elevations and maps overland flood areas. This chapter presents the methods for the dynamic modeling of coastal flooding and compares results from the static approach (discussed in more detail in Chapter 3, NPCC, 2015) and dynamic modeling approaches.

The NPCC2's exploration of dynamic modeling was, in part, motivated by a desire to test whether there were considerable differences between dynamic modeling and static mapping outcomes. In addition, FEMA uses dynamic models for its flood-mapping studies (e.g., FEMA, 2014a), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) similarly uses dynamic models for forecasting neighborhood flooding during hurricanes. Further, prior studies of New York Harbor have shown that dynamic models can reproduce past storm-tide events with a typical accuracy of 0.5 ft (e.g., Colle et al., 2008; Orton et al., 2012; Georgas et al., 2014).

In addition, under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, FEMA is required to convene a Technical Mapping Advisory Council to develop recommendations on "how to ensure that the Federal Emergency Management Agency uses the best available methodology to consider the impact of the rise in sea level." New York City relies on FEMA's Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) as the basis to understand current flood risk and to inform floodplain management regulations. Therefore New York City and the NPCC2 have an interest in developing methods for assessing future flood hazards that are consistent with FEMA's approach for mapping present-day flood zones.

Here, we set out to inform this discussion by utilizing both static and dynamic methods of calculating the effects of sea level rise on FEMA stillwater elevation estimates and then comparing results. The broader goal of this work is to contribute to the methods by which New York City and other coastal cities can evaluate and address the future impacts of sea level rise on coastal flooding.

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BibTeX Citation

  author={Orton, P. and Vinogradov, S. and Georgas, N. and Blumberg, A. and Lin, N. and Gornitz, V. and Little, C. and Jacob, K. and Horton, R.},
  title={New York City Panel on Climate Change 2015 Report: Dynamic coastal flood modeling},
  journal={Ann. New York Acad. Sci.},

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RIS Citation

ID  - or04000e
AU  - Orton, P.
AU  - Vinogradov, S.
AU  - Georgas, N.
AU  - Blumberg, A.
AU  - Lin, N.
AU  - Gornitz, V.
AU  - Little, C.
AU  - Jacob, K.
AU  - Horton, R.
PY  - 2015
TI  - New York City Panel on Climate Change 2015 Report: Dynamic coastal flood modeling
JA  - Ann. New York Acad. Sci.
VL  - 1336
SP  - 56
EP  - 66
DO  - 10.1111/nyas.12589
ER  -

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