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Assessing impacts of sea level rise on seawater intrusion in a coastal aquifer with sloped shoreline boundary

Hussain, Mohammed S., Javadi, Akbar A.
Journal of hydro-environment research 2016 v.11 pp. 29-41
aquifers, case studies, climate change, freshwater, hydraulic conductivity, mathematical models, porosity, saltwater intrusion, sea level, shorelines, solutes, water table
This paper investigates the effect of gradual and instantaneous sea level rise (SLR) on the seawater intrusion (SWI) process in coastal aquifer systems with different levels of land-surface inundation. A set of hypothetical case studies with different shoreline slopes is used to conduct this numerical experiment. For the purpose of numerical modelling, a future rate of SLR from 2015 to 2100 is considered based on the moderate expectation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2001). The gradual SLR is implemented in two different stages. First, continuous and nonlinear rising of sea level is imposed starting from year 2015 up to the end of the century. After that the final value of sea level is maintained as constant in order to assess the response time spanning to a new steady state condition. The effects of pumping resulting in lowering of groundwater level are also considered together with the dynamic variation of sea level. The results show that the rate and the amount of SWI are considerably greater in aquifers with flat shoreline slopes compared with those with steep slopes. Moreover, a shorter period of time is required to reach a new steady state condition in systems with flatter slopes. The SWI process is followed by a significant depletion in quantity of freshwater resources at the end of the century. The situation is exacerbated with combined action of SLR and over-abstraction. Finally, by considering the effect of inundation of the shoreline due to gradual SLR, the sensitivity of the system to the main aquifer parameters including molecular diffusion of solute, dispersion, hydraulic conductivity and porosity is investigated.