Date of Award

Summer 8-23-2019

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Oceanography

Advisor

Huijie Xue

Second Committee Member

Neal R. Pettigrew

Third Committee Member

John Cannon

Abstract

This thesis details the development and application of a finite-volume, hydrodynamic model of Saco and Casco Bays. The primary study conducted herein focused on coupling storm simulations with sea level rise (SLR) to identify vulnerabilities of the two bays. The February 1978 Northeaster and an April freshwater discharge event in 2007 following the Patriot’s Day Storm were modeled by utilizing the Finite-Volume Coastal Ocean Model (FVCOM). Both events were repeatedly simulated under SLR scenarios ranging from 0 to 7 ft. Modeled storm responses were identified from the 1978 blizzard simulations and were tracked across SLR scenarios. By comparing changes in inundation, storm currents, and salinity distribution between the two bays, freshwater discharge and bathymetric structure were isolated as two determining factors in how storm responses change with the rising sea level. The step-like bottom relief at the shoreline of Casco Bay set up nonlinear responses to SLR. In contrast, storm responses in Saco Bay varied significantly with SLR due to alterations in river dynamics attributed to SLR-induced flooding. Following the storm response study, variants of the Saco and Casco model were developed to support interdisciplinary research involving biological modeling, policy making, and other resiliency studies. This thesis details the processes involved in producing a modular model design flexible enough to be utilized across a diverse research effort.

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