Fluid dynamics, the study of fluids in motion, lies at the heart of most questions that humans ask of the ocean.  Increasing numbers of people are moving to its coastlines, yet the added stress we put on the ocean can overwhelm its benefits.  Understanding problems such as storm surges, climate change, and pollutant discharges requires a detailed knowledge of ocean, estuary, and atmosphere transport processes.

I enjoy living and working in a metro region with 22 million people mostly living on islands like Manhattan and increasingly aware of their connections with the surrounding ocean.  I’m a research professor at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, and my specific research interests include estuary and coastal ocean physics, storm surges and sea level rise, urban flood adaptation, probabilistic forecasting, air-sea interaction, sediment transport and computational ocean and atmosphere modeling.


Using a new and replicable climate attribution approach, we quantified impacts of anthropogenic climate change during Hurricane Sandy, including an additional $8.1 billion in damages, and 71000 people exposed to flooding.  Read about it in Scientific American and CBS News.

Congrats to PhD student Ziyu Chen, who won this year’s John P. Breslin Award, Presented to an outstanding graduate student in Ocean Engineering.

In our new paper in Science Advances we estimate that changing tides, usually due to estuary urbanization practices such as dredging and landfill, have increased US nuisance flooding by about 20% (the net increase for 40 stations).  Read about it in Popular Science and Wired.


Columbia University, Ph.D., physical oceanography, dissertation

University of South Carolina, M.S., marine science

University of Michigan, B.S., physical oceanography

PEER-REVIEWED PUBLICATIONS (ResearchGate page) (Google Scholar page)

Strauss, B., P. Orton, K. Bittermann, M. K. Buchanan, R. E. Kopp, S. Kulp, C. Massey, H. de Moel, and S. Vinogradov (2021), Economic Damages from Hurricane Sandy Attributable to Sea Level Rise Caused by Anthropogenic Climate Change, Nature Communications, 12(2720), doi:10.1038/s41467-021-22838-1.  open access

Li, S., T. Wahl, S. A. Talke, D. A. Jay, P. M. Orton, X. Liang, G. Wang, and L. Liu (2021), Evolving tides aggravate nuisance flooding along the U.S. coastline, Science Advances, 7(10), eabe2412, doi:10.1126/sciadv.abe2412.  open access

Miller, L. A., and P. M. Orton (2021), Achieving Negative Emissions through the Ocean Sequestration of Vegetation Biomass as Black Pellets, Climatic Change, 167(3): 1-23.  open access

Chen, Z., P. M. Orton, and T. Wahl (2020), Storm Surge Barrier Protection in an Era of Accelerating Sea Level Rise: Quantifying Closure Frequency, Duration and Trapped River Flooding, Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 8(9), 725, doi:10.3390/jmse8090725.  open access

Orton, P. M., E. W. Sanderson, S. A. Talke, M. Giampieri, and K. MacManus (2020), Storm tide amplification and habitat changes due to urbanization of a lagoonal estuary, Natural Hazards and Earth System Science, 20(9), 2415-2432, doi:10.5194/nhess-20-2415-2020. open access

Zhang, F., P. M. Orton, M. Madajewicz, S. C. K. Jagupilla, and R. Bakhtyar (2020), Mortality during Hurricane Sandy: The effects of waterfront flood protection on Staten Island, New York, Natural Hazards, doi:10.1007/s11069-020-03959-0.  open access

Gornitz, V., M. Oppenheimer, R. Kopp, R. Horton, D. Bader, P. Orton, and C. Rosenzweig (2020), Enhancing New York City’s Resilience to Sea Level Rise and Increased Coastal Flooding, Urban Climate, 33, 100654, doi:10.1016/j.uclim.2020.100654. web

Gurumurthy, P., P. M. Orton, S. A. Talke, N. Georgas, and J. F. Booth (2019), Mechanics and Historical Evolution of Sea Level Blowouts in New York Harbor, Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 7(5), 160, doi:  open access

Orton, P., N. Lin, V. Gornitz, B. Colle, J. Booth, K. Feng, M. Buchanan, and M. Oppenheimer (2019), New York City Panel on Climate Change 2019 Report Chapter 4: Coastal Flooding, Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 1439, 95-114, doi:10.1111/nyas.14011.  open access

Patrick, L., W. Solecki, V. Gornitz, P. Orton, and A. Blumberg (2019), New York City Panel on Climate Change 2019 Report Chapter 5: Mapping Climate Risk, Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 1439, 115-125, doi:10.1111/nyas.14015.  open access

Gornitz, V., M. Oppenheimer, R. Kopp, P. Orton, M. Buchanan, N. Lin, R. Horton, and D. Bader (2019), New York City Panel on Climate Change Chapter 3: Sea Level Rise, Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 1439, 71-94, doi:10.1111/nyas.14006.  open access

Orton, P. M., F. R. Conticello, F. Cioffi, T. M. Hall, N. Georgas, U. Lall, A. F. Blumberg, and K. MacManus (2018). Flood hazard assessment from storm tides, rain and sea level rise for a tidal river estuary, Natural Hazards, 1-29, doi:10.1007/s11069-018-3251-x.  web | PDF.

Bakhtyar, R., P. M. Orton, R. Marsooli, and J. K. Miller (2018), Rapid wave modeling of severe historical extratropical cyclones off the Northeastern United States, Ocean Engineering, 159, 315–332, doi:10.1016/j.oceaneng.2018.04.037.  web.

Marsooli, R., P. M. Orton, J. Fitzpatrick, and H. Smith (2018), Residence time of a highly urbanized estuary: Jamiaca Bay, New York, Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 6(44), doi:10.3390/jmse6020044.  open access

Hu, K., Chen, Q., Wang, H., Hartig, E. K., & Orton, P. M. (2018). Numerical modeling of salt marsh morphological change induced by Hurricane Sandy. Coastal Engin., 132: 63–81.  web.

Marsooli, R., P.M. Orton, and G. Mellor (2017). Modeling wave attenuation by salt marshes in Jamaica Bay, New York, using a new rapid wave model, J. Geophys. Res., 122, doi:10.1002/2016JC012546.  PDF web

Marsooli, R., P. M. Orton, G. Mellor, N. Georgas, and A. F. Blumberg (2017). A Coupled Circulation-Wave Model for Numerical Simulation of Storm Tides and Waves, J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol., doi:10.1175/JTECH-D-17-0005.1.  open access

Kemp, A. C., T. D. Hill, C. H. Vane, N. Cahill, P. M. Orton, S. A. Talke, A. C. Parnell, K. Sanborn, and E. K. Hartig (2017). Relative sea-level trends in New York City during the past 1500 years, The Holocene, 0959683616683263. PDFweb

Close, S. L., F. Montalto, P. Orton, A. Antoine, D. Peters, H. Jones, A. Parris, and A. Blumberg (2017). Achieving sustainability goals for urban coasts in the US Northeast: research needs and challenges, Local Environment, 22(4), 508-522, doi:10.1080/13549839.2016.1233526. web

Orton, P. M., Hall, T. M., Talke, S., Blumberg, A. F., Georgas, N., & Vinogradov, S. (2016). A Validated Tropical-Extratropical Flood Hazard Assessment for New York Harbor. J. Geophys. Res., 121. doi: 10.1002/ 2016JC011679.  open access

Marsooli, R., P. M. Orton, N. Georgas, and A. F. Blumberg (2016). Three-Dimensional Hydrodynamic Modeling of Coastal Flood Mitigation by Wetlands, Coast. Eng., 111, 83-94. open access

Georgas, N., L. Yin, Y. Jiang, Y. Wang, P. Howell, V. Saba, J. Schulte, P. Orton, and B. Wen (2016), An Open-Access, Multi-Decadal, Three-Dimensional, Hydrodynamic Hindcast Dataset for the Long Island Sound and New York/New Jersey Harbor Estuaries, Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 4(48), DOI: 10.3390/jmse4030048. web

Brandon, C.M., J.D. Woodruff, P.M. Orton and J.P. Donnelly (2016). Evidence for Elevated Coastal Vulnerability Following Large-Scale Historical Oyster Bed Harvesting. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 2016; DOI: 10.1002/esp.3931. web

Orton, P. M., S. A. Talke, D. A. Jay, L. Yin, A. F. Blumberg, N. Georgas, H. Zhao, H. J. Roberts, and K. MacManus (2015). Channel Shallowing as Mitigation of Coastal Flooding, Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 3(3), 654-673, DOI: 10.3390/jmse3030654. open access

Blumberg, A., N. Georgas, L. Yin, T. Herrington, and P. Orton (2015), Street scale modeling of storm surge inundation along the New Jersey Hudson River waterfront, J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol., DOI: 10.1175/JTECH-D-14-00213.1. web

Orton, P., S. Vinogradov, N. Georgas, A. Blumberg, N. Lin, V. Gornitz, C. Little, K. Jacob, and R. Horton, 2015. New York City Panel on Climate Change 2015 Report Chapter 4: Dynamic Coastal Flood Modeling, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1336(1), 56-66. web | PDF | NYCreport-PDF

Wang, J., D. G. MacDonald, P. M. Orton, K. Cole, and J. Lan, 2015.  The Effect of Discharge, Tides, and Wind on Lift-Off Turbulence, Estuaries and Coasts, 1-15, DOI: 10.1007/s12237-015-9958-y.  web

Georgas, N., P. Orton, A. Blumberg, L. Cohen, D. Zarrilli, and L. Yin, 2014. The Impact of Tidal Phase on Hurricane Sandy’s Flooding Around New York City and Long Island Sound, Journal of Extreme Events, DOI: 10.1142/S2345737614500067. web

Talke, S., P. Orton, and D. Jay, 2014.  Increasing Storm Tides at New York City, 1844-2013, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, DOI: doi:10.1002/2014GL059574.  web

Meir, T., Orton, P.M., Pullen, J., Holt, T., Thompson, W.T., Arend, M.F., 2013. Forecasting the New York City urban heat island and sea breeze during extreme heat events. Weather and Forecasting.  doi: 10.1175/WAF-D-13-00012.1.  web

Orton, P., N. Georgas, A. Blumberg, and J. Pullen, 2012. Detailed Modeling of Recent Severe Storm Tides in Estuaries of the New York City Region, J. Geophys. Res., 117(C9), doi:10.1029/2012JC008220.  web

Harrison, E., Veron, F. Ho, D., Reid, M., Orton, P. and McGillis, W., 2012. Nonlinear interaction between rain-and wind-induced air-water gas exchange, J. Geophys. Res., 117(C3), C03034.  web

Ho, D.T., Schlosser, P. and Orton, P.M., 2011. On factors controlling air-water gas exchange in a large tidal river, Estuaries and Coasts, 34:1103-1116, DOI: 10.1007/s12237-011-9396-4.  web

Orton, P.M., McGillis, W.R., and Zappa, C.J., 2011.  An autonomous self-orienting catamaran for measuring air-water fluxes and forcing. In: Gas Transfer at Water Surfaces, edited by S. Komori et al., Kyoto University Press.  PDF

Orton, P. M., Zappa, C.J., and McGillis, W.R., 2010.  Tidal and atmospheric influences on near-surface turbulence in an estuary, J. Geophys. Res., 115, C12029, doi:10.1029/2010JC006312.  PDF | web

Orton, P.M., McGillis, W.R., and Zappa, C.J., 2010.  Sea breeze forcing of estuary turbulence and CO2 exchange. Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L13603, doi:10.1029/2010GL043159.  PDF | web

Hickey, B. M., R. M. Kudela, J. D. Nash, K. W. Bruland, W. T. Peterson, P. MacCready, E. J. Lessard, D. A. Jay, N. S. Banas, A. M. Baptista, E. P. Dever, P. M. Kosro, L. K. Kilcher, A. R. Horner-Devine, E. D. Zaron, R. M. McCabe, J. O. Peterson, P. M. Orton, J. Pan, and M. C. Lohan, 2010. River Influences on Shelf Ecosystems: Introduction and Synthesis, J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2009JC005452.  web

Horner-Devine, A., Jay, D.A., Orton, P.M., and Spahn, E., 2009.  A conceptual model of the strongly tidal Columbia River plume. Journal of Marine Systems, 78(3): 460–475, doi:10.1016/j.jmarsys.2008.11.025.  web

Jay, D.A., Pan, J., Orton, P.M., and Horner-Devine, A., 2009. Asymmetry of tidal plume fronts in an eastern boundary current regime. Journal of Marine Systems, 78(3): 442-459, doi:10.1016/j.jmarsys.2008.11.015.  web

Orton, P.M. and Visbeck, M., 2009. Variability of internally generated turbulence in an estuary, from 100 days of continuous observations. Continental Shelf Research, doi:10.1016/j.csr.2007.07.008.  PDF | web

Pan, J., Jay, D. A., and Orton, P. M., 2007. Analyses of internal solitary waves generated at the Columbia River plume front using SAR imagery, J. Geophys. Res., 112, C07014, doi:10.1029/2006JC003688.  web

Jay, D. A., Orton, P. M., Chisholm, T., Wilson, D.J., and Fain, A.M.V. 2007.  Particle trapping in stratified estuaries: Consequences of mass conservation. Estuaries and Coasts 30(6), 1095-1105, doi: 10.1007/BF02841399.  web

Jay, D. A., Orton, P. M., Chisholm, T., Wilson, D.J., and Fain, A.M.V. 2007.  Particle trapping in stratified estuaries: Application to observations. Estuaries and Coasts 30(6), 1106-1125, doi: 10.1007/BF02841400.  web

Orton, P. M., and Jay, D. A., 2005. Observations at the tidal plume front of a high-volume river outflow, Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L11605, doi:10.1029/2005GL022372.  web

Emmett, R.L, Brodeur, R.D. and Orton, P.M. 2004. The vertical distribution of juvenile salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) and associated fishes in the Columbia River plume. Fisheries Oceanography 13:6, 392-402, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2419.2004.00294.x.  web

Fain, A.M.V., Jay, D. A., Wilson, D. J., Orton, P. M., and Baptista, A. M. 2001. Seasonal, monthly and tidal patterns of particulate matter dynamics in the Columbia River estuary, Estuaries 24: 770-786, doi: 10.2307/1352884.  web

Orton, P.M. and Kineke, G.C. 2001.  Comparing calculated and observed vertical suspended sediment distributions from a Hudson River Estuary turbidity maximum. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 52(3), 401-410, doi: 10.1006/ecss.2000.0747.  PDF | web


NY Times Room-For-Debate editorial, Should New York Build Sea Gates? Big Projects, Big Problems, So Think Small

Higinbotham, J.R., Moisan, J. and Orton, P. 2009. Solar Powered Autonomous Surface Vehicle Development and Operation. Sea Technology 50(7).

O’Mullan, G., Orton, P., McGillis, W., Sambrotto, R., and Mailloux, B., Sniffing out the Truth, New York Times Sunday Edition, Opinions Section, January 21, 2007.  PDF | web

Orton, P.M., (on climate change) Energy crisis much broader than perceived, The Oregonian, Editorial Section, January 29, 2001.  PDF

Schwing, F.B., Orton, P.M., Jay, D.A., Batchelder, H. and Rosenfeld, L.K. 1999.  Conference explores El Nino’s relationship to the Northeast Pacific.  EOS: Transactions, American Geophysical Union, 80(11):122.