Future Wave Conditions of Europe, in Response to High-End Climate Change Scenarios

TitleFuture Wave Conditions of Europe, in Response to High-End Climate Change Scenarios
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsBricheno, LM, Wolf, J
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans

Changes in future North Atlantic storminess will impact upon wave conditions along the European coasts, with implications for coastal erosion, overtopping, and flood risk. In this study we make a detailed analysis of historic and future wave conditions around the European Atlantic coast, making projections out to the year 2100 under Representative Concentration Pathways 4.5 and 8.5 future emissions scenarios. A decrease in mean significant wave height of the order 0.2 m is projected across most of the European coast. Increases in the annual maximum and 99th percentile wave height as large as 0.5–1 m are observed in some areas but with a more complex spatial pattern. An increase in waves to the north of Scotland is also observed, mainly caused by a reduction in sea ice. We generate a set of coastal wave projections at around 10‐km resolution around continental Europe, Ireland, and the British Isles. Widening of the probability density function (PDF) is observed, suggesting an increased intensity of rare high wave events in the future. The emergent signal of a reduced mean wave height is statistically robust, while the future changes in extreme waves have a wider confidence interval. An assessment of different extreme waves metrics reveals different climate change response at very high percentiles; thus, care should be taken when assessing future changes in rare wave events.