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North Atlantic storm driving of extreme wave heights in the North Sea

Bell, R. J., Gray, S. L. ORCID: and Jones, O. P. (2017) North Atlantic storm driving of extreme wave heights in the North Sea. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 122 (4). pp. 3253-3268. ISSN 21699275

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/2016JC012501


The relationship between storms and extreme ocean waves in the North Sea is assessed using a long-period wave dataset and storms identified in the Interim ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim). An ensemble sensitivity analysis is used to provide information on the spatial and temporal forcing from mean sea-level pressure and surface wind associated with extreme ocean wave height responses. Extreme ocean waves in the central North Sea arise due to intense extratropical cyclone winds from either the cold conveyor belt (northerly-wind events) or the warm conveyor belt (southerly-wind events). The largest wave heights are associated with northerly-wind events which tend to have stronger wind speeds and occur as the cold conveyor belt wraps rearwards round the cyclone to the cold side of the warm front. The northerly-wind events provide a larger fetch to the central North Sea to aid wave growth. Southerly-wind events are associated with the warm conveyor belts of intense extratropical cyclones that develop in the left upper-tropospheric jet exit region. Ensemble sensitivity analysis can provide early warning of extreme wave events by demonstrating a relationship between wave height and high pressure to the west of the British Isles for northerly-wind events 48 hours prior. Southerly-wind extreme events demonstrate sensitivity to low pressure to the west of the British Isles 36 hours prior.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:70099


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