Dr. Meng Xia, University of Maryland Eastern Shore
At a Glance
Increased storm activity has been observed in the Atlantic basin in recent years due to the growing effects of climate change. These storms disrupt the hydrological cycle and pose a serious threat to communities along coastal regions. Many climate models predict that coastal regions will be exposed to more frequent storms in the future. Along with the inundation of roads, residential and commercial infrastructure, the residual effects from storms can trigger significant environmental imbalance impacting surface and subsurface water. These immediate storm-driven impacts combine with more systematic pressures to magnify the water-related impacts. For example, due to the overuse of groundwater resources, we see declining groundwater levels which can result in sea water intrusion, land subsidence, and contamination.
The connection of surface water and groundwater during water circulation in watersheds is vitally important for consideration and includes rivers, lakes, reservoirs, wetlands and estuaries. More often, the surface water modeling system overpredicts the inundation extent by not considering the intrusion factor. However, connected aquifers have a greater salinized extent and shorter recovery time. Storm surge events like Katrina and Rita witnessed a decrease in the Ca/Mg ratio and elevated chloride concentration right after the storm, which returned toward pre-hurricane values in about six months. Hence, a comprehensive understanding of coupled surface water and groundwater modeling is attempted under this project to understand the hydrological and biogeochemical processes of these two interconnected systems.