Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center > Coastal Model Applications and Field Measurements > Research Activities > Landscape change and water level response
On 28-30 October 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused severe flooding along portions of the northeast coast of the United States and cut new inlets across barrier islands in New Jersey and New York. About 30 percent of the 20 highest daily maximum water levels observed between 2007 and 2013 in Barnegat and Great South Bay occurred in the five months following Hurricane Sandy, raising the concern that Sandy may have altered the coastal system and left the mainland more vulnerable to flooding. Comparisons between water levels before and after Hurricane Sandy at bay stations and an offshore station show no significant differences in the transfer of sea level fluctuations from offshore to either bay following Sandy (Aretxabaleta and others, 2014). The post-Hurricane Sandy bay high water levels reflected offshore sea levels caused by winter storms, not by barrier-island breaching or geomorphic changes within the bays.
This analysis provides a strategy to assess the effects of landscape change (inlets, erosion, etc.) on the transfer of offshore water level into back barrier bays.