Simulated Effects of Sea-Level Rise on the Shallow, Fresh Groundwater System of Assateague Island, Maryland and Virginia   [open pdf - 22MB]

From the Abstract: "The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the National Park Service, developed a three-dimensional groundwater-flow model for Assateague Island in eastern Maryland and Virginia to assess the effects of sea-level rise on the groundwater system. Sea-level rise is expected to increase the altitude of the water table in barrier island aquifer systems, possibly leading to adverse effects to ecosystems on the barrier islands. The potential effects of sea-level rise were evaluated by simulating groundwater conditions under sea-level-rise scenarios of 20 centimeters (cm), 40 cm, and 60 cm. Results show that as sea level rises, low-lying areas of the island originally represented as receiving freshwater recharge in the baseline scenario are inundated by saltwater. This change from freshwater recharge to saltwater decreases the overall amount of freshwater recharging the system. As the water table rises in response to the higher sea levels, freshwater flow out of the system changes, with more freshwater leaving as submarine groundwater discharge and less freshwater leaving as seeps and evapotranspiration. At the current land-surface altitude, as much as 50 percent of the island may be inundated with a 60-cm rise in sea level, and the low-lying marshes may change from freshwater to saltwater."

Report Number:
U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5104
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
U.S. Geological Survey: https://www.usgs.gov/
Media Type:
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