Climate Dynamics

, Volume 45, Issue 9–10, pp 2499–2514 | Cite as

Variability in storm climate along the Gulf of Cadiz: the role of large scale atmospheric forcing and implications to coastal hazards

  • Theocharis A. PlomaritisEmail author
  • Javier Benavente
  • Irene Laiz
  • Laura Del Río


In the context of increased coastal hazards due to variability in storminess patterns, the danger of coastal damages and/or morphological changes is related to the sum of sea level conditions, storm surge, maximum wave height and run up values. In order to better understand the physical processes that cause the variability of the above parameters a 44 years reanalysis record (HIPOCAS) was used. The HIPOCAS time-series was validated with real wave and sea-level data using linear and vector correlation methods. In the present work changes in the magnitude, duration, frequency and approach direction of the Atlantic storms over the Gulf of Cadiz (SW Iberian Peninsula) were identified by computing various storm characteristics such as maximum wave height, total energy per storm wave direction and storm duration. The obtained time-series were compared with large-scale atmospheric indices such as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the East Atlantic pattern. The results show a good correlation between negative NAO values and increased storminess over the entire Gulf of Cadiz. Furthermore, negative NAO values were correlated with high residual sea level values. Finally, a joint probability analysis of storm and sea level analysis resulted in increased probabilities of the two events happening at the same time indicating higher vulnerability of the coast and increased coastal risks. The above results were compared with coastal inundation events that took place over the last winter seasons in the province of Cadiz.


NAO EA Wave height Sea level Joint probability Storm climate 



The authors would like to acknowledge Puertos del Estado for providing the wave buoy data for the coastal area of Cadiz, and CEDEX for providing the HIPOCAS data. This work has been supported by the MICORE project (EU grant FP7-ENV-2007-1-202798), the GERICO project (CGL2011-25438) and the RISCKIT project (Resilience-Increasing Strategies for Coasts—toolKIT”, EU grant number 603458, IL was financially supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology (“Juan de la Cierva Programme”, the project ALCOVA (CTM2012-37839) and by the research group RNM-337 of the PAI. TAP, JB and LdR were also supported by the research group RNM-328 of the PAI. The contribution of the two reviewers in the improvement of the manuscript is greatly acknowledged.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theocharis A. Plomaritis
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Javier Benavente
    • 1
  • Irene Laiz
    • 3
  • Laura Del Río
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth Science, Faculty of Marine and Environmental ScienceUniversity of CadizPuerto Real, CadizSpain
  2. 2.CIMAUniversity of AlgarveFaroPortugal
  3. 3.Department of Applied Physics, Faculty of Marine and Environmental ScienceUniversity of CadizPuerto Real, CadizSpain

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