Sea level rise and tidal power plants in the Gulf of Maine

Holly E. Pelling and J.A. Mattias Green – Journal of Geophysical Research, May 2013


The response of the Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine to large scale tidal power plants and future sea-level rise (SLR) is investigated using an established numerical tidal model. Free stream tidal turbines were simulated within the Bay of Fundy by implementing an additional bed friction term, Kt. The present day maximum tidal power output was determined to be 7.1 GW, and required Kt = 0.03. Extraction at this level would lead to large changes in the tidal amplitudes across the Gulf of Maine. With future SLR implemented the energy available for extraction increases with 0.5-1 GW per m SLR. SLR simulations without tidal power extraction revealed that the response of the semi-diurnal tides to SLR is highly dependent on how changes in sea-level are implemented in the model. When extensive flood defences are assumed at the present day coast line, the response to SLR is far larger than when land is allowed to (permanently) flood. For example, within the Bay of Fundy itself the M2 amplitude increases with nearly 0.12 m per m SLR without flooding, but it changes with only 0.03 m per m SLR with flooding. We suggest that this is due to the flooding of land cells changing the resonant properties of the basin.



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