Preliminary Evaluation of the Physical Influences of Storm Surge Barriers

Friday, October 12, 2018, 10:30 a.m.

Constructing large barriers at the mouths of rivers and estuaries is a potential way to mitigate flood damage from storm surges resulting from hurricanes, nor’easters, and other extreme weather events. The construction of barriers to protect the New York-New Jersey Harbor has been discussed for many years, but has gained added attention in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Notably, the Corps of Engineers is now considering a broad range of options to address coastal storm risks through the New York – New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study (HATS), including construction of large barriers in the Harbor and Long Island Sound.

The attention given to surge barriers has generated considerable interest among a wide range of parties in the region. This interest is due in part to the possibility that barriers may provide substantial flood mitigation benefits, but also to the concerns that these barriers pose the possibility of generating very serious ecosystem-wide impacts. As there are substantial uncertainties challenging a reliable assessment of the full range of these impacts, it is clear that relevant new and existing science will be critical in evaluating potential physical, chemical and biological effects associated with any barrier proposal.

The Hudson River Foundation and the New York – New Jersey Harbor and Estuary Program commissioned a preliminary evaluation of the potential physical influences that large barriers could have on the estuary by Drs. Philip M. Orton (Stevens Institute of Technology) and David K. Ralston (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution). A link to the report of that examination, Preliminary Evaluation of the Physical Influences of Storm Surge Barriers on the Hudson River Estuary, is provided below.

The Hudson River Foundation hosted a seminar, led by Drs. Orton and Ralston, on October 12, 2018, to discuss the report. Listen to the seminar recording and view other seminar documents using the links below.

Seminar Links

Hudson River Foundation