Predicting the frequency of storm surges and extreme sea levels in the northwest Atlantic
Bernier, N. B.
Thompson, K. R.
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 A 40 year hindcast of storm surges in the northwest Atlantic and adjacent shelf seas is performed using a 2-D nonlinear barotropic ocean model forced by realistic 6 hourly winds and air pressures. This hindcast is used to generate spatial maps of the return level of storm surges and also to estimate the return period of extreme total sea levels. The accuracy of the hindcast is assessed in two ways. First, the standard deviation of the difference between the observed residuals (total sea level minus tide) and the hindcast is calculated at 24 tide gauge locations. A typical error standard deviation is 8 cm. Second, the 40 year return level of observed residuals is compared to that of the hindcast surges. The predicted 40 year return levels are typically within 10 cm of observed return levels at the 24 observation locations. A spatial map of the 40 year return level of surges is presented for the northwest Atlantic. It identifies the regions exposed to the largest surges. Total sea levels are reconstructed using (1) the hindcast surges and (2) tides and higher-frequency variability predicted from short, observed sea level records. An extremal analysis of the reconstructed total sea levels shows that their 40 year return levels are in good agreement (within about 10 cm) with the levels calculated from multidecadal observed sea level records. This means that given a short record anywhere within the model domain, or results from a good tidal model, 40 year return levels can be estimated.
Bernier, N. B., and K. R. Thompson. 2006. "Predicting the frequency of storm surges and extreme sea levels in the northwest Atlantic." Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans 111(C10): 10009-C10009. DOI:10.1029/2005JC003168