Convective rear-flank downdraft as driver for meteotsunami along English Channel and North Sea coasts 28–29 May 2017

Sibley, Andrew M.; Cox, Dave; Tappin, David R.. 2021 Convective rear-flank downdraft as driver for meteotsunami along English Channel and North Sea coasts 28–29 May 2017. Natural Hazards, 106. 1445-1465.

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We examine the physical processes that led to the meteotsunami observed along the English Channel and North Sea coasts on 29 May 2017. It was most notably reported along the Dutch coast, but also observed on tide gauges from the Channel Islands to the coast of Germany, and also those in eastern England. From an assessment of multiple observations, including rain radar, LIDAR, satellite, surface observations and radiosonde reports we conclude that the event was driven by a rear flank downdraft in association with a mesoscale convective system (MCS). This downdraft, from a medium level or elevated MCS, led to a hydrostatically forced internal or ducted gravity wave below the MCS. The gravity wave was manifested by a marked rise and fall in pressure, a meso-high, which then interacted with the sea surface through Proudman resonance causing a measured wave of close to 0.9 m in amplitude, and an estimated wave run-up on Dutch beaches of 2 m. Through examination of existing research, we show that the basic assumptions here relating to the formation of the Dutch meteotsunami are consistent with previously described physical processes, and confirm the correlation between the speed of the ocean wave and medium level steering winds. This raises the possibility that high-resolution, coupled, weather-ocean numerical weather prediction (NWP) models can be utilised to predict future events. However, deterministic high-resolution NWP models still struggle with modelling convective systems with sufficient precision because of the chaotic nature of the atmosphere and incomplete observations. A way forward is proposed here to improve forecasting through post-processing of NWP model output by overlaying medium level wind fields with ocean bathymetry.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0921-030X
Date made live: 25 Nov 2020 09:40 +0 (UTC)

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