Coastal Flooding

CIRCA works to enhance coastal resilience to coastal flooding in Connecticut. Coastal flooding is caused by waves, storm surge, and high tide, particularly with increased sea levels. In coastal areas where there are also rivers, rainfall contributes to coastal flooding as well.

Impacts of Extreme Weather and Climate Change on Coastal Flooding

The 2014 National Climate Assessment finds that the intensity, frequency, and duration of North Atlantic hurricanes and the frequency of hurricanes have all increased since the 1980s. It is projected that hurricane intensity and rainfall will increase as the climate continues to warm. Coastal flooding occurs during hurricanes and less intense storm events, i.e. tropical storms or nor’easters, due to waves, storm surge, and rainfall. As the sea levels rise, the frequency of coastal flooding during all storms will increase as well as the total flooded area. Flooding that occurs during small storms or at high tide is often referred to as “nuisance flooding.” As sea levels rise, the frequency of nuisance flooding will also increase.

CIRCA and Coastal Flooding

CIRCA’s research projects investigate the particular impacts of coastal flooding on Connecticut’s shoreline. The general projections of the impacts of extreme weather and climate change above do not account for how those trends will play out at the municipal scale in Connecticut. The varied features of Connecticut’s coastline, its marshes, small beaches, and rocky headlands, determine how and where flooding will occur. CIRCA’s research incorporates these coastal features as well as the unique ocean dynamics of Long Island Sound to determine wave height and force, projected storm surges, the frequency of flooding due to those storms, and sea level rise.

CIRCA Research Projects

CIRCA’s current research projects in the area of coastal flooding are listed below.

NOAA Coastal Resilience Networks: “Enhancing Coastal Resilience in Connecticut” (CREST)

The NOAA Coastal Resilience Networks: “Enhancing Coastal Resilience in Connecticut” project provided wave information for the harbors in Old Saybrook and New Haven, a review of design guidelines and tools for site assessment of living shorelines, and an online map viewer.

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Jarvis Creek Sea Level & Flooding Variability

The Jarvis Creek Sea Level and Flooding Variability study in Branford, CT determined how downstream flood prevention activities affect areas upstream in terms of flooding frequency. The Institute provided a report.pdf with policy directions for the DEEP Office of Long Sound Programs for future consideration of similar upstream impacts.

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Municipal Resilience Planning Assistance for Sea Level Rise, Coastal Flooding, Wastewater Treatment Infrastructure, & Policy

The Municipal Resilience Planning Assistance for Sea Level Rise, Coastal Flooding, Wastewater Treatment Infrastructure, and Policy project provides information for wastewater system vulnerability assessments, combined river and coastal flooding for pilot sites, and policy options for priority resilience projects for towns in the Sandy-impacted counties.

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Advancing High Resolution Coastal Forecasting & Living Shorelines Approaches in the Northeast

The Advancing High Resolution Coastal Forecasting and Living Shorelines Approaches in the Northeast advances northeast regional forecasting for inundation from storms under future sea level rise scenarios and identifies policy barriers and potential solutions for the use of living shorelines in the northeast.

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