Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans








We combine archival research, semi-analytical models, and numerical simulations to address the following question: how do changes to channel geometry alter tidal properties and flood dynamics in a hyposynchronous, strongly frictional estuary with a landward decay in tidal amplitudes? Records in the Saint Johns River Estuary since the 1890s show that tidal range has doubled in Jacksonville, Florida. Near the estuary inlet, tidal discharge approximately doubled but tidal amplitudes increased only ∼6%. Modeling shows that increased shipping channel depths from ∼5 to ∼13m drove the observed changes, with other factors like channel shortening and width reduction producing comparatively minor effects. Tidal amplitude increases are spatially variable, with a maximum change 20–25 km from the estuary inlet; tidal theory suggests that increases in amplitude approximately follow x exp (μx) where x is the distance from the ocean and μ is a damping coefficient. Tidal changes are a predictor of altered surge dynamics: Numerical modeling of hurricane Irma under 1898 and 2017 bathymetric conditions confirms that both tidal and storm surge amplitudes are larger today, with a similar spatial pattern. Nonetheless, peak water levels are simulated to be larger under 1898 bathymetry. The cause is likely the record river discharge observed during the storm; as suggested by a subtidal water-level model, channel deepening since 1898 appears to have reduced the average surface slope required to drain both mean river flow and storm flows toward the ocean. Nonetheless, results suggest an increased vulnerability to storms with less river flow, but larger storm surge.


An edited version of this paper was published by AGU. Copyright 2021 American Geophysical Union.

Publisher's version available at:


0000-0003-3374-7891 (Familkhalili)

Original Publication Citation

Talke, S. A., Familkhalili, R., & Jay, D. A. (2021). The influence of channel deepening on tides, river discharge effects, and storm surge. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 126(5), Article e2020JC016328, 1-24.