Concerning the Elevated Water Issue and Calls to Dredge the Bay

There has been a lot of hearsay and conjecture regarding the elevated waters in the bay, and a call-to-action demanding the bay be dredged to alleviate the issue. It is unlikely debris (including sand and soil) are the cause of this as Archimedes Principle does not apply due to the fact that the bay is not a closed system. If you drop a bowling ball into a tub, the water level will indeed rise. The problem is, the bay is not a closed-system like a tub; it has open drains (inlets) at each end.  That is the first problem with the dredge-the-bay argument.

Secondly, while it is true that water levels in the bay have been running much higher than usual, so have water levels in the ocean and the inlets (there are plenty of tide gauge stations online, including one in Barnegat Inlet itself), demonstrating that the source of the flooding (the ocean) is high, and water, via gravity, wants to equilibrate and find a common level; it just so happens the location of that equilibrium point involves Barnegat Bay.

In fact, I am looking out my office window, which is right in the mouth of the an inlet (where the bays have unrestricted passage to drain back into the ocean), at a flooded marsh surface, and am keeping an eye on the tide via an array of USGS depth sensors to time my egress so as to not get trapped here by a flooded-out road until the next ebb late tonight. It is the ocean that is flooding the area here, NOT a bay allegedly swelled by debris.

USGS tide sensor at Little Egg Inlet

Great Bay Blvd just starting to flood

So, why is the ocean higher than usual? This can be explained by the fact that we are in a strong –NAO pattern, which sets up a high-pressure block over Greenland, which traps storms against the NE coast, causing extended periods of surge, thus increasing the duration and severity of coastal flooding events. In fact, this phenomenon is what caused Sandy to make that bizarre left-turn into the coast and is what has been causing storms to park near the coast and flood our shores since then.

Add to that that we are also in a +PNA pattern, which sets the stage for coastal storm development. Then note that we have a –AO dip in the jet stream feeding developing coastal storms with an ample supply of cold air. All this nurtures Nor’easters and supercharges them once they form.

If you need more explanation of all of this, please refer to the featured article I posted on March 5th titled “Some science behind the upcoming storm (and why people in the know are making a big deal of it)

This issue is much bigger than what happened/is going on in the tiny lagoonal estuary we call Barnegat Bay; it is a hemisphere-affecting phenomenon. I only hope the decision-makers listen to scientists who know better and not bow to the dredge-the-bay-from-shore-to-shore advocates pushing for well-intended but misguided gutting of the bay. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to see a solution devised, but not based on mis-information and hysteria, and not at the expense of destroying the bay itself.

Current NAO, PNA, and AO


Some useful links: