Rising Water: Harnessing the Process of Sedimentation for a Flood Resilient Coastal Landscape
Courtney, Paige Therese
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This thesis examines the relationships between rising water levels, vulnerable land, and sedimentation within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Climate induced sea level rise threatens low lying coastal land, especially in regions of continuing subsidence such as the Chesapeake Bay. Alterations to shorelines over time have impacted the ability of coastal landscapes to capture and build up sediment, exposing them to continual erosion. The low lying neighborhood of Belle View along the Potomac River is the focus of the investigation due to its vulnerability to flooding and its cultural and ecological connections to the adjacent landscapes of Dyke Marsh and the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Through careful placement of breakwater infrastructure, sediment will build over time as the water rises, mitigating the effects of coastal flooding in this region. Alterations to the landscapes of the marsh and parkway allow for their cultural and recreational values to be strengthened over time as the landscape adjusts to the rising sea level.
General Audience Abstract
Climate change, or the belief that human activity is altering the earth's climate, is projected to increase the occurrence of flood events due to water levels rising over time from glaciers melting. Previously, shorelines have been hardened with levee or seawall infrastructure to creates a barrier between the water and developed land. Hardened shorelines may increase water velocity and reflect wave energy in riverine landscapes, consequentially disturbing natural shorelines. This disturbance leads to the gradual loss of sediment over time and therefore a loss of ground elevation. When landscapes lose elevation, they become more vulnerable to rising water levels and flooding. This relationships between shoreline types, sedimentation, rising water, and vulnerability inspired me to discover and design a threatened landscape that would capture sediment within the river's water column to build elevation over time and protect the adjacent development from rising water. The area encompassing the low lying neighborhood of Belle View, Dyke Marsh, and the George Washington Memorial Parkway along the Potomac River is the focus of the investigation due to its vulnerability to flooding. With a careful understanding of sediment capture infrastructure dynamics, the design introduces breakwaters on the site to allow sediment to build over time as the water rises. This research and design thesis demonstrates a strategy to create landscapes that will evolve over time to mitigate future flooding events and create more resilient landscapes.
- Masters Theses