Improving tide predictions and identifying flood thresholds

Co-developing local flood thresholds and high tide flooding predictions.

What water level and weather conditions lead to local flooding? With around 5000 miles of tidally influenced coastline and only a handful of active tide gauges, there’s much about coastal flooding in Maine that we don’t know. As sea levels rise, accurate tide predictions and observations that tie water levels to flood impacts are two key pieces of information needed to inform coastal management and resilience plans. This project leverages innovative water level measuring technology and engaged coastal community members to meet this challenge.

Project Goals:

  • Install low-cost tide gauges using emerging water level measurement technologies in priority areas identified by civic and community partners.
  • Use localized water level measurements to generate improved local tide predictions and high tide flooding projections.
  • Codevelop community science and education programs for collecting geo- and time-referenced photographic flood impact data.
  • Tie the flood impact data to water level measurements and the development of local flood thresholds and flood alerts.
  • Engage youth through classroom curriculum aimed at promoting local data collection and connecting them with local decision-makers.

Sea level rise is increasing the frequency of high tide flooding, and coastal communities face an urgent need to adapt. Near- and long-term high tide flooding projections that combine reliable tide predictions and local observations that tie water levels to specific flood impacts (called “flood thresholds”) are a key first step in adaptation. However, sparse tide gauge coverage, unreliable tide predictions, and a lack of observation-based flood thresholds all pose significant barriers to flood adaptation planning in Maine.

To address this challenge, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute is collaborating with a team of civic, community, and industry partners in building technological, scientific, and community infrastructure for establishing flood thresholds and improving tide predictions in coastal Maine communities.

Water is flooding into a parking lot.
Parking meters sit in high tide waters.

Project Team

Project Sponsor

This project is generously supported by the National Science Foundation.

Municipal Partners

Additional Project Partners

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