Sea level extremes in Southern Europe

Marcos, Marta; Tsimplis, Michael N.; Shaw, Andrew G.P.. 2009 Sea level extremes in Southern Europe. Journal of Geophysical Research, 114 (C1). C01007.

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Knowledge of sea level extremes is important for coastal planning purposes. Temporal changes in the extremes may indicate changes in the forcing parameters, most probably the storm surges. Sea level extremes and their spatial and temporal variability in southern Europe are explored on the basis of 73 tide gauge records from 1940. This study uses all data available to infer risks at the coast caused by extreme sea levels. Extreme values of 250 cm are observed at the Atlantic coasts with smaller values in the Mediterranean where, with the exception of the Strait of Gibraltar and the Adriatic Sea, the extreme values are less than 60 cm. At the Adriatic Sea values of up to 200 cm are found. When the tidal contribution is removed the differences between the various areas reduce. The spatial distribution of the extremes of the tidal residuals is well represented by the hindcast of a two-dimensional hydrodynamic model forced by the atmospheric pressure and the wind, although the model underestimates the extremes. Higher return levels (200–300 cm for the 50-year return level) are observed in the Atlantic stations due to the larger tides. In the Mediterranean, higher values are found in the northern Adriatic (between 150 and 200 cm) while in the rest of the domain they vary between 20 and 60 cm. The nonlinear interaction between tides and surges is negligible in the Mediterranean, thus the joint tides-surges distribution can be applied. The interannual and decadal variability in time of extremes is caused by mean sea level changes.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0148-0227
Date made live: 20 Oct 2008 +0 (UTC)

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