Impacts of climate change on storms and waves relevant to the coastal and marine environment around the UK

Wolf, J. ORCID:; Woolf, D.; Bricheno, L. ORCID: 2020 Impacts of climate change on storms and waves relevant to the coastal and marine environment around the UK. MCCIP Science Review, 2020. 132-157.

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We have updated the review by Woolf and Wolf (2013) by summarising the results of the IPCC AR5 report for storms and waves and then including more-recent work published since 2013. There are similar conclusions: wavemodel results are controlled largely by the quality of the wind data used to drive them, and the forcing climate models have slightly improved in accuracy as well as resolution. In general, trends are obscured by wide natural variability and a low signal-to-noise ratio. Assessment of changes in storminess and waves over the last 200 years are limited by lack of data, while future projections are limited by the accuracy of climate models. Recent work has led to more insight in some areas. There are now more climate- and wave- model ensembles, more in-depth assessments of the results of CMIP5, and the CMIP6 project and IPCC AR6 assessments have started. There is a move towards higher-resolution models, which give better accuracy for simulation of tropical and extra-tropical storms. Further work is being done with coupled atmosphere-ocean-wave models, which give insight into key dynamic processes. There is evidence for an increase in North Atlantic storms at the end of the 20th Century. Some projections for North Atlantic storms over the 21st Century show an overall reduced frequency of storms and some indication of a poleward shift in the tracks, in the northern hemisphere (NH) winter, but there is substantial uncertainty in projecting changes in NH storm tracks, especially in the North Atlantic. Projections for waves in the North Atlantic show a reduction in mean wave height, but an increase in the most-severe wave heights. There is a likelihood of larger wave heights to the north of the UK as the Arctic sea ice retreats and leads to increased fetch.

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Date made live: 03 Mar 2020 16:29 +0 (UTC)

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