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Sea level extremes in the Caribbean Sea

Torres, R. Ricardo; Tsimplis, Michael N.. 2014 Sea level extremes in the Caribbean Sea. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 119 (8). 4714-4731. 10.1002/2014JC009929

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Abstract/Summary

Sea level extremes in the Caribbean Sea are analyzed on the basis of hourly records from 13 tide gauges. The largest sea level extreme observed is 83 cm at Port Spain. The largest nontidal residual in the records is 76 cm, forced by a category 5 hurricane. Storm surges in the Caribbean are primarily caused by tropical storms and stationary cold fronts intruding the basin. However, the seasonal signal and mesoscale eddies also contribute to the creation of extremes. The five stations that have more than 20 years of data show significant trends in the extremes suggesting that flooding events are expected to become more frequent in the future. The observed trends in extremes are caused by mean sea level rise. There is no evidence of secular changes in the storm activity. Sea level return periods have also been estimated. In the south Colombian Basin, where large hurricane-induced surges are rare, stable estimates can be obtained with 30 years of data or more. For the north of the basin, where large hurricane-induced surges are more frequent, at least 40 years of data are required. This suggests that the present data set is not sufficiently long for robust estimates of return periods. ENSO variability correlates with the nontidal extremes, indicating a reduction of the storm activity during positive ENSO events. The period with the highest extremes is around October, when the various sea level contributors' maxima coincide.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1002/2014JC009929
ISSN: 21699275
Additional Keywords: Caribbean Sea; sea level; extremes
Date made live: 05 Aug 2014 10:43 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/508017

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