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Volume 16, issue 11 | Copyright
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 2373-2389, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-16-2373-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 21 Nov 2016

Research article | 21 Nov 2016

Coastal flooding: impact of waves on storm surge during extremes – a case study for the German Bight

Joanna Staneva1, Kathrin Wahle1, Wolfgang Koch1, Arno Behrens1, Luciana Fenoglio-Marc2, and Emil V. Stanev1 Joanna Staneva et al.
  • 1Institute for Coastal Research, HZG, Max-Planck-Strasse 1, 21502 Geesthacht, Germany
  • 2Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation, University of Bonn, Nussallee 17, 53115 Bonn, Germany

Abstract. This study addresses the impact of wind, waves, tidal forcing and baroclinicity on the sea level of the German Bight during extreme storm events. The role of wave-induced processes, tides and baroclinicity is quantified, and the results are compared with in situ measurements and satellite data. A coupled high-resolution modelling system is used to simulate wind waves, the water level and the three-dimensional hydrodynamics. The models used are the wave model WAM and the circulation model GETM. The two-way coupling is performed via the OASIS3-MCT coupler. The effects of wind waves on sea level variability are studied, accounting for wave-dependent stress, wave-breaking parameterization and wave-induced effects on vertical mixing. The analyses of the coupled model results reveal a closer match with observations than for the stand-alone circulation model, especially during the extreme storm Xaver in December 2013. The predicted surge of the coupled model is significantly enhanced during extreme storm events when considering wave–current interaction processes. This wave-dependent approach yields a contribution of more than 30% in some coastal areas during extreme storm events. The contribution of a fully three-dimensional model compared with a two-dimensional barotropic model showed up to 20% differences in the water level of the coastal areas of the German Bight during Xaver. The improved skill resulting from the new developments justifies further use of the coupled-wave and three-dimensional circulation models in coastal flooding predictions.

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This study addresses the impact of wind, waves, tidal forcing and baroclinicity on the sea level of the German Bight during extreme storm events. The role of wave-induced processes, tides and baroclinicity is quantified, and the results are compared with in situ measurements and satellite data. Considering a wave-dependent approach and baroclinicity, the surge is significantly enhanced in the coastal areas and the model results are closer to observations, especially during the extreme storm.
This study addresses the impact of wind, waves, tidal forcing and baroclinicity on the sea level...
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