Surge Barrier Environmental Effects and Empirical Experience Workshop Report

Report Resource
December 2019

Storm surge barriers or tide gates can minimize flooding and protect people and property during large storms. Yet their environmental effects are poorly understood and feasibility studies of potential surge 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 modeled and analyzed barriers' physical effects and hosted a series of workshops to synthesize and share information.

About this resource

This report summarizes the content, key discussion points and emerging recommendations from the workshop Surge Barrier Environmental Effects and Empirical Experience, held September 13, 2019. 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 are 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:

Learn more about the project(s) and related resources: 
Climate Resilience