Workshop Report: Surge Barrier Environmental Effects and Empirical Experience

Report Resource
December 2019
Orton Science Workshop Report cover

Storm surge barriers or tide gates can effectively protect harbors and minimize flooding, property damage, and loss of life during large storms. However, feasibility studies of potential barriers need to consider a range of potential impacts on an estuary. To broaden understanding of surge barriers being considered for the New York/ New Jersey harbor, a 2018 catalyst project conducted modeling and analyses of the physical influences of surge barriers and hosted a series of workshops to synthesize and share information.

This report summarizes the content, key discussion points and emerging recommendations from a workshop held in September 2019 titled, Surge Barrier Environmental Effects and Empirical Experience. Through invited presentations and facilated discussions, workshop participants examined three focal topics (1) empirical experience from constructed gated storm surge barriers, (2) potential surge barrier effects on migrating organisms, and (3) potential surge barrier effects on tidal wetlands.

The workshop goals were to: 

  1. Identify the present scientific understanding regarding surge barrier environmental effects, highlighting both areas of consensus and divergence;
  2. Identify key additional data, research and models;
  3. Build collaboration among people involved in the topic around the world, including empirical data and experience from past surge barrier projects, as well as approaches for evaluating environmental effects in present studies; and
  4. Improve the scientific foundation for the USACE's on-going feasibility study.

A copy of the agenda, a participant list,and presentation slides and also available within the report and through the project webpage.


Orton, Philip, Sarah Fernald, Kristin Marcell, Bennett Brooks, Bram van Prooijen and Ziyu Chen. 2019. Surge Barrier Environmental Effects and Empirical Experience Workshop Report. 31 p. Available at:

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