Is there a signal of sea-level rise in Chesapeake Bay salinity?

T. W. Hilton, Raymond Gabriel Najjar, Jr., L. Zhong, M. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We evaluate the hypothesis that sea-level rise over the second half of the 20th century has led to detectable increases in Chesapeake Bay salinity. We exploit a simple, statistical model that predicts monthly mean salinity as a function of Susquehanna River flow in 23 segments of the main stem Chesapeake Bay. The residual (observed minus modeled) salinity exhibits statistically significant linear (p < 0.05) trends between 1949 and 2006 in 13 of the 23 segments of the bay. The salinity change estimated from the trend line over this period varies from -2.0 to 2.2, with 10 of the 13 cells showing positive changes. The mean and median salinity changes over all 23 cells are 0.47 and 0.72; over the 13 cells with significant trends they are 0.71 and 1.1. We ran a hydrodynamic model of the bay under present-day and reduced sea level conditions and found a bay-average salinity increase of about 0.5, which supports the hypothesis that the salinity residual trends have a significant component due to sea-level rise. Uncertainties remain, however, due to the spatial and temporal extent of historical salinity data and the infilling of the bay due to sedimentation. The salinity residuals also exhibit interannual variability, with peaks occurring at intervals of roughly 7 to 9 years, which are partially explained by Atlantic Shelf salinity, Potomac River flow and the meridional component of wind stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberC09002
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Volume113
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 8 2008

Fingerprint

Chesapeake Bay (US)
Chesapeake Bay
Sea level
salinity
sea level
Rivers
Wind stress
Sedimentation
trends
Hydrodynamics
river flow
rivers
cells
Potomac River
sea level rise
statistical models
wind stress
shelves
stems
hydrodynamics

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

Cite this

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abstract = "We evaluate the hypothesis that sea-level rise over the second half of the 20th century has led to detectable increases in Chesapeake Bay salinity. We exploit a simple, statistical model that predicts monthly mean salinity as a function of Susquehanna River flow in 23 segments of the main stem Chesapeake Bay. The residual (observed minus modeled) salinity exhibits statistically significant linear (p < 0.05) trends between 1949 and 2006 in 13 of the 23 segments of the bay. The salinity change estimated from the trend line over this period varies from -2.0 to 2.2, with 10 of the 13 cells showing positive changes. The mean and median salinity changes over all 23 cells are 0.47 and 0.72; over the 13 cells with significant trends they are 0.71 and 1.1. We ran a hydrodynamic model of the bay under present-day and reduced sea level conditions and found a bay-average salinity increase of about 0.5, which supports the hypothesis that the salinity residual trends have a significant component due to sea-level rise. Uncertainties remain, however, due to the spatial and temporal extent of historical salinity data and the infilling of the bay due to sedimentation. The salinity residuals also exhibit interannual variability, with peaks occurring at intervals of roughly 7 to 9 years, which are partially explained by Atlantic Shelf salinity, Potomac River flow and the meridional component of wind stress.",
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Is there a signal of sea-level rise in Chesapeake Bay salinity? / Hilton, T. W.; Najjar, Jr., Raymond Gabriel; Zhong, L.; Li, M.

In: Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, Vol. 113, No. 9, C09002, 08.09.2008.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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