Tracking the spatial footprints of extreme storm surges around the coastline of the UK and Ireland

Paula Camus, Ivan D. Haigh, Niall Quinn, Thomas Wahl, Thomas Benson, Ben Gouldby, Ahmed A. Nasr, Md Mamunur Rashid, Alejandra R. Enríquez, Stephen E. Darby, Robert J. Nicholls, Norberto C. Nadal-Caraballo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Storm surges are the most important driver of flooding in many coastal areas. Understanding the spatial extent of storm surge events has important financial and practical implications for flood risk management, reinsurance, infrastructure reliability and emergency response. In this paper, we apply a new tracking algorithm to a high-resolution surge hindcast (CODEC, 1980–2017) to characterize the spatial dependence and temporal evolution of extreme surge events along the coastline of the UK and Ireland. We quantify the severity of each spatial event based on its footprint extremity to select and rank the collection of events. Several surge footprint types are obtained based on the most impacted coastal stretch from each particular event, and these are linked to the driving storm tracks. Using the collection of the extreme surge events, we assess the spatial distribution and interannual variability of the duration, size, severity, and type. We find that the northeast coastline is most impacted by the longest and largest storm surge events, while the English Channel experiences the shortest and smallest storm surge events. The interannual variability indicates that the winter seasons of 1989-90 and 2013–14 were the most serious in terms of the number of events and their severity, based on the return period along the affected coastlines. The most extreme surge event and the highest number of events occurred in the winter season 1989–90, while the proportion of events with larger severities was higher during the winter season 2013–14. This new spatial analysis approach of surge extremes allows us to distinguish several categories of spatial footprints of events around the UK/Ireland coast and link these to distinct storm tracks. The spatial dependence structures detected can improve multivariate statistical methods which are crucial inputs to coastal flooding assessments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100662
JournalWeather and Climate Extremes
Volume44
Early online date1 Apr 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Apr 2024

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