Journal cover Journal topic
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 391-401, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-16-391-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
08 Feb 2016
Storms or cold fronts: what is really responsible for the extreme waves regime in the Colombian Caribbean coastal region?
L. J. Otero, J. C. Ortiz-Royero, J. K. Ruiz-Merchan, A. E. Higgins, and S. A. Henriquez Applied Physics Group – Ocean and Atmosphere Area – Physics Department, Universidad del Norte, Barranquilla, Colombia
Abstract. The aim of this study is to determine the contribution and importance of cold fronts and storms to extreme waves in different areas of the Colombian Caribbean in an attempt to determine the extent of the threat posed by the flood processes to which these coastal populations are exposed. Furthermore, the study wishes to establish the actions to which coastal engineering constructions should be subject. In the calculation of maritime constructions, the most important parameter is the height of the wave. For this reason, it is necessary to establish the design wave height to which a coastal engineering structure should be resistant. This wave height varies according to the return period considered. The significant height values for the areas focused on in the study were calculated in accordance with Gumbel's extreme value methodology. The methodology was evaluated using data from the reanalysis of the spectral National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) WAVEWATCH III® (WW3) model for 15 points along the 1600 km of the Colombian Caribbean coastline (continental and insular) between the years 1979 and 2009. The results demonstrated that the extreme waves caused by tropical cyclones and those caused by cold fronts have different effects along the Colombian Caribbean coast. Storms and hurricanes are of greater importance in the Guajira Peninsula (Alta Guajira). In the central area (consisting of Baja Guajira, and the cities of Santa Marta, Barranquilla, and Cartagena), the strong impact of cold fronts on extreme waves is evident. However, in the southern region of the Colombian Caribbean coast (ranging from the Gulf of Morrosquillo to the Gulf of Urabá), the extreme values of wave heights are lower than in the previously mentioned regions, despite being dominated mainly by the passage of cold fronts. Extreme waves in the San Andrés and Providencia insular region present a different dynamic from that in the continental area due to their geographic location. The wave heights in the extreme regime are similar in magnitude to those found in Alta Guajira, but the extreme waves associated with the passage of cold fronts in this region have lower return periods than those associated with the hurricane season.



Citation: Otero, L. J., Ortiz-Royero, J. C., Ruiz-Merchan, J. K., Higgins, A. E., and Henriquez, S. A.: Storms or cold fronts: what is really responsible for the extreme waves regime in the Colombian Caribbean coastal region?, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 391-401, https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-16-391-2016, 2016.
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Short summary
The extreme waves caused by tropical cyclones and cold fronts have different effects along the Colombian Caribbean coast. Storms and hurricanes are of greater importance in the northern region of the Colombian Caribbean coast. In the central and the southern region, the strong influence of cold fronts on extreme waves is evident. In the islands of San Andrés and Providencia, the extreme waves generated by cold fronts have lower return periods than the extreme waves associated with hurricanes.
The extreme waves caused by tropical cyclones and cold fronts have different effects along the...
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