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Coastal Vulnerability Assessment of Gateway National Recreation Area to Sea-Level Rise
USGS Open-File Report 2004-1257

Map of Coastal Vulnerability

Skip past contents informationTable of Contents link to Title Page Link to Abstract Page Link to Introduction Page Link to Data Ranking Page Link to GATE Link to Methology Page Link to Geologic Variables Page Link to Physical Process Variables Page Link to Calculating the Vulnerability Index Page Link to Results Page Link to Discussion Page Link to Conclusions Page Link to References Page

Physical Process Variables

The relative sea-level change variable is derived from the increase or decrease in annual mean water elevation over time as measured at tide gage stations along the coast. The rate of sea-level rise at the Battery, NY is 2.77 +/- 0.05 mm/yr based on 144 years of data (Zervas, 2001), and the rate of sea-level rise in Sandy Hook, NJ is 3.88 +/-0.15 mm/yr based on 68 years of data. This variable inherently includes both global sea-level rise as well as regional sea-level rise due to isostatic and tectonic adjustments of the land surface. Relative sea-level change data are a historical record, and thus only portray the recent sea-level trend (<50 years). The rate of relative sea-level rise for Gateway is moderate (3) in the NY units, and very high (5) in NJ (Table 1).

Mean significant wave height is used here as a proxy for wave energy which drives the coastal sediment budget. Wave energy is directly related to the square of wave height;

E = 1/8 ρgH2

where E is energy density, H is wave height, ρ is water density and g is acceleration due to gravity. Thus, the ability to mobilize and transport coastal sediments is a function of wave height squared. In this report, we use hindcast nearshore mean significant wave height data for the period 1976-95 obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wave Information Study (WIS) (see references in Hubertz and others, 1996). The model wave heights were compared to historical measured wave height data obtained from the NOAA National Data Buoy Center to ensure that model values were representative of the study area. For Gateway, mean significant wave heights are between 1.2 and 1.3 m, which is categorized as high (4) and very high vulnerability (5), respectively (Table 1).

Tidal range is linked to both permanent and episodic inundation hazards. Tide range data were obtained from NOAA/NOS for tide gauges at Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island and Fort Hancock, Sandy Hook. All of Gateway NRA is classified as high vulnerability (1 m - 2 m) with respect to tidal range (Table 1).

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