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Projected future wave climate in the NW Mediterranean Sea

May 25, 2013

Projected future regional wave climate scenarios at a high temporal-spatial scale were obtained for the NW Mediterranean Sea, using 5 combinations of regional-global circulation models. Changes in wave variables were analyzed and related to the variations of the forcing wind projections, while also evaluating the evolution of the presence of the different types of sea states. To assess the significance of the changes produced, a bootstrap-based method was proposed which accounts for the autocorrelation of data and correctly reproduces the extremes.

For the mean climate, relative changes of Hs up to ±10% were obtained, whereas they were around ±20% for the extreme climate. In mean terms, variations of Hs are similar to those associated with wind speed but are enhanced/attenuated, respectively, when fetch conditions are favorable/unfavorable. In general, most notable alterations are not in the Hs magnitude but rather in its direction. In this regard, during the winter season, it is interesting to note that the significant deviations between the results derived from the two global circulation models are larger than those between regional models. ECHAM5 simulated an enhanced W wind flow which is translated into more frequent W-NW waves, whereas the HadCM3Q3 global model gives rise to the E component, which contributes to a higher intensity and number of storms coming from such a direction and directly affects the wind-sea/swell distribution of coastal stretches that face E, like the Catalan coast. Different patterns of change were obtained during the summer, when a common rise of NE-E waves was found.

Casas-Prat M, Sierra JP, in press, Projected future wave climate in the NW Mediterranean Sea, Journal of Geophysical Research Oceans, doi: 10.1002/jgrc.20233. Article (subscription required)

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