Estimating salinity intrusion effects due to climate change along the Grand Strand of the South Carolina coast

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Abstract

The ability of water-resource managers to adapt to future climatic change is especially challenging in coastal regions of the world. The East Coast of the United States falls into this category given the high number of people living along the Atlantic seaboard and the added strain on resources as populations continue to increase, particularly in the Southeast. Increased temperatures, changes in regional precipitation regimes, and potential increased sea level would have a great impact on existing hydrological systems in the region. Six reservoirs in North Carolina discharge into the Pee Dee River, which flows 160 miles through South Carolina to the coastal communities near Myrtle Beach, SC. During the Southeast’s record-breaking drought from 1998 to 2002, salinity intrusions inundated a coastal municipal freshwater intake, limiting water supplies. Salinity intrusion results from the interaction of three principal forces - streamflow, mean tidal water levels, and tidal range. To analyze, model, and simulate hydrodynamic behaviors at critical coastal streamgages along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIW) near Myrtle Beach, SC, data-mining techniques were applied to over 20 years of hourly streamflow, coastal water-quality, and water-level data. Artificial neural network (ANN) models were trained to learn the variable interactions that cause salinity intrusions. Streamflow from the 12,700 square-mile Pee Dee River Basin that flows into the AIW are input to the model as time-delayed variables and accumulated tributary inflows. Tidal inputs to the models were obtained by decomposing tidal water-level data into a “periodic” signal of tidal range and a “chaotic” signal of mean water levels. The ANN models were able to convincingly reproduce historical behaviors and generate alternative scenarios of interest. To evaluate the impact of climate change on salinity intrusion, inputs of streamflows and mean tidal water levels were modified to incorporate estimated changes in precipitation patterns and sea-level rise appropriate for the Southeastern United States. Changes in mean tidal water levels were changed parametrically for various sea-level rise conditions. Preliminary model results at the U.S. Geological Survey Pawleys Island streamgage (station 02110125) near a municipal freshwater intake indicate that a sea-level rise of 1 foot (ft, 30.5 centimeters [cm]) would double the frequency of water with a specific conductance value of 2,000 microsiemens per centimeter close to 4 percent. A 2 ft (61 cm) sea-level rise would quadruple the frequency to 9 percent.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Estimating salinity intrusion effects due to climate change along the Grand Strand of the South Carolina coast
Year Published 2010
Language English
Publisher Joint Federal Interagency Conference
Contributing office(s) South Atlantic Water Science Center
Description 9 p.
Larger Work Type Conference Paper
Larger Work Title Proceedings of the Joint Federal Interagency Conference 2010: Hydrology and sedimentation for a changing future: existing and emerging issues
Conference Title Joint Federal Interagency Conference 2010: Hydrology and sedimentation for a changing future: existing and emerging issues
Conference Location Las Vegas, Nevada
Conference Date June 27-July 1 2010
Country United States
State South Carolina
Other Geospatial Grand Strand of South Carolina coast
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N