Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil & Environmental Engineering

Committee Director

Xixi Wang

Committee Member

Gary Schafran

Committee Member

G. Richard Whittecar

Committee Member

Hua Liu


This dissertation assessed impacts of Climate Change (CC) and Sea Level Rise (SLR) on coastal hydrologic processes using the Lynnhaven River watershed as a test bed. The watershed is part of Chesapeake Bay Watershed and hydraulically connected with mid-Atlantic Ocean. Six CC scenarios were considered in terms of eight Regional Climate Models’ predictions for three Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emission assumptions, namely, B1, A1B, and A2, for two future periods, namely 2046 to 2065 and 2081 to 2099. The ensemble means of downscaling results from four methods were used to represent the future climates. On the other hand, the SLR was estimated based on a Mann-Kendal test and the responding Sen’s slopes for ten reference years between 2023 and 2113. In addition, the six CC scenarios and ten SLR scenarios for the reference years were combined together to formulate 60 simulation scenarios. Further, a Storm Water Management Model (SWMM) model was set up for the study watershed, with the initial model parameter values estimated using the national datasets on topography, soils, land use/land cover, and imperviousness. The model was calibrated and validated using runoff data from three storm events and long-term daily data on water table. The model well captured the rising, primary peak, and recession of the observed runoff hydrograph, as well as it successfully traced the dynamics of groundwater flow and its interactions with percolation from the overland and surface water bodies. The simulation results indicate that changes of peak discharge, flood stage, and water table will be impacted by SLR and CC, leading to larger peak discharges and higher flood stages with increasing frequency and duration. The approach presented in this dissertation to model combined effects of CC and SLR may be migrated to other coastal watersheds. Herein, this dissertation can be a contribution to developing adaptation strategies to CC/SLR and thus to improving resilience of coastal communities.


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