Effects of sea level rise on salinity and tidal flooding patterns in the Guadiana Estuary

Lara Mills, João Janeiro, Flávio Martins

Sea level rise is a worldwide concern as a high percentage of the population is located in coastal areas. The focus of this study is the impact of sea level rise in the Guadiana Estuary, an estuary in the Iberian Peninsula formed at the interface of the Guadiana River and the Gulf of Cadiz. Estuaries will be impacted by sea level rise as these transitional environments host highly diverse and complex marine ecosystems. The major consequences of sea level rise are the intrusion of salt from the sea into fresh water and an increase in flooding area. As the physical, chemical, and biological components of estuaries are sensitive to changes in salinity, the purpose of this study is to further evaluate salt intrusion in the Guadiana Estuary caused by sea level rise. Hydrodynamics of the Guadiana Estuary were simulated in a two-dimensional numerical model with the MOHID water modeling system. A previously developed hydrodynamic model was implemented to further examine changes in salinity distribution in the estuary in response to sea level rise. Varying tidal amplitudes, freshwater discharge from the Guadiana River and bathymetries of the estuary were incorporated in the model to fully evaluate the impacts of sea level rise on salinity distribution and flooding areas of the estuary. Results show an overall increase in salinity and land inundation in the estuary in response to sea level rise.



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