Daily synoptic conditions associated with occurrences of compound events in estuaries along North Atlantic coastlines

Paula Camus, Ivan D. Haigh, Thomas Wahl, Ahmed A. Nasr, Fernando Méndez, Stephen E. Darby, Robert J. Nicholls

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Abstract

Coastal compound flooding events occur when extreme events of rainfall, river discharge and sea level coincide and collectively increase water surface elevation, exacerbating flooding. The meteorological conditions that generate these events are usually low-pressure systems that generate high winds and intense rainfall. In this study, we identify the types of synoptic atmospheric conditions that are typically associated with coastal compound events using a weather-type approach, for the North Atlantic coastlines (encompassing northwest Europe and the east coast of the U.S.). Compound events are identified along the estuaries of the study region from 1980 to 2014 based on an impact function defined by water surface elevation that resulted from the combination of river discharge and sea level. We find that compound events are more frequent along European as opposed to US coastlines. In both cases, they are associated with a few dominant weather patterns. European hotspots of compound events are concentrated in the west coast of UK, the northwest coast of the Iberian Peninsula and around the Strait of Gibraltar. These areas share the same weather patterns which represent the main pathways of storms that cross the North Atlantic Ocean. In the case of US locations, the areas with highest number of compound events are located mainly in the Gulf of Mexico and along Mexico and along the mid-eastern US coastlines. In these areas, compound events are produced by transitional weather patterns, which describe storms that travel northward parallel to the coastline. Splitting the occurrence of compound events in the corresponding weather types discriminates the interannual variability based on the relationship with dominant climate indices in the North Atlantic Ocean.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Climatology
Early online date8 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Feb 2022

Keywords

  • North Atlantic
  • coastal flooding
  • compound events
  • estuaries
  • weather types

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