Evolving tides aggravate nuisance flooding along the U.S. coastline

Sci Adv. 2021 Mar 5;7(10):eabe2412. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abe2412. Print 2021 Mar.


Nuisance flooding (NF) is defined as minor, nondestructive flooding that causes substantial, accumulating socioeconomic impacts to coastal communities. While sea-level rise is the main driver for the observed increase in NF events in the United States, we show here that secular changes in tides also contribute. An analysis of 40 tidal gauge records from U.S. coasts finds that, at 18 locations, NF increased due to tidal amplification, while decreases in tidal range suppressed NF at 11 locations. Estuaries show the largest changes in NF attributable to tide changes, and these can often be traced to anthropogenic alterations. Limited long-term measurements from estuaries suggest that the effects of evolving tides are more widespread than the locations considered here. The total number of NF days caused by tidal changes has increased at an exponential rate since 1950, adding ~27% to the total number of NF events observed in 2019 across locations with tidal amplification.