The impact of future sea-level rise on the European Shelf tides

Pickering, M.D.; Wells, N.C.; Horsburgh, K.J. ORCID:; Green, J.A.M.. 2012 The impact of future sea-level rise on the European Shelf tides. Continental Shelf Research, 35. 1-15.

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This paper investigates the effect of future sea-level rise (SLR) on the tides of the northwest European Continental Shelf. The European shelf tide is dominated by semidiurnal constituents. This study therefore focuses primarily on the changes in the M2 tidal constituent and the spring and neap tidal conditions. The validated operational Dutch Continental Shelf Model is run for the present day sea-level as well as 2 and 10 m SLR scenarios. The M2 tidal amplitude responds to SLR in a spatially non-uniform manner, with substantial amplitude increases and decreases in both scenarios. The M2 tidal response is non-linear between 2 and 10 m with respect to SLR, particularly in the North Sea. Under the 2 m SLR scenario the M2 constituent is particularly responsive in the resonant areas of the Bristol Channel and Gulf of St. Malo (with large amplitude decreases) and in the southeastern German Bight and Dutch Wadden Sea (with large amplitude increases). Changes in the spring tide are generally greater still than those in the M2 or neap tides. With 2 m SLR the spring tidal range increases up to 35 cm at Cuxhaven and decreases up to −49 cm at St. Malo. Additionally the changes in the shallow water tides are larger than expected. With SLR the depth, wave speed and wave length (tidal resonance characteristics) are increased causing changes in near resonant areas. In expansive shallow areas SLR causes reduced energy dissipation by bottom friction. Combined these mechanisms result in the migration of the amphidromes and complex patterns of non-linear change in the tide with SLR. Despite the significant uncertainty associated with the rate of SLR over the next century, substantial alterations to tidal characteristics can be expected under a high end SLR scenario. Contrary to existing studies this paper highlights the importance of considering the modification of the tides by future SLR. These substantial future changes in the tides could have wide reaching implications; including for example, correctly calculating design level requirements for flood defences, the availability of tidal renewable energy and dredging requirements.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: NOC Programmes
POL Programmes
ISSN: 02784343
NORA Subject Terms: Marine Sciences
Date made live: 16 Mar 2012 14:10 +0 (UTC)

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