When a storm event is barreling down on the Washington coast, elevated sea levels often cause low-lying areas to flood, while coastal dunes may erode as they are pummeled by waves. A question many of us may have is what is actually driving the flooding and erosion we experience? Is it large waves? Storm surge? A high tide? A heavy rainfall event with subsequent peak streamflow? A combination of a few of these variables, or dominantly driven by one? Coastal and estuarine flooding and erosion events are complex problems, often driven by many different processes like waves, storm surge, tides, and streamflow. Thus, understanding the variability of specific processes and how they combine to drive extreme sea levels will help to identify vulnerable locations, information crucial for appropriately responding to risk.
See a more in-depth description of Katy’s PhD research at Oregon State University from her CHRN webinar on the WA Sea Grant YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skBwO33Fntg&t=16s