Climate Dynamics

, Volume 46, Issue 1–2, pp 449–466 | Cite as

Recent wave climate and expected future changes in the seasonally ice-infested waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada

  • Benoit Ruest
  • Urs Neumeier
  • Dany Dumont
  • Eliott Bismuth
  • Simon Senneville
  • James Caveen


A new method is developed to evaluate the wave climate in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (GSL) with the consideration of wave attenuation by sea ice. Ice concentrations outputs from a regional oceanic model are used to attenuate, in post-processing, significant wave height (H s ) time-series simulated with a parametric wave model for ice-free conditions. Reanalysis data is used to compute GSL wave climate for the 1981–2010 period with and without wave attenuation by sea ice. Outputs from two simulations from the Canadian Regional Climate Model are also used to evaluate how GSL wave climate should evolve during the twenty first century according to the SRES-A2 greenhouse gases emission scenario. Results show that sea ice has reduced extreme H s on the GSL by about 12 % on average over the 1981–2010 period but its impact on wave climate should become negligible by 2100 except in the St. Lawrence Estuary. Over the twenty first century, an increase of extreme H s on the GSL should be expected mostly because of the reduction of sea ice. On the other hand, little changes in the extreme wave climate should be expected as a response to changes in the wind regime over the GSL. For future coastal engineering applications, the GSL wave climate could be evaluated by supposing an ice-free sea to integrate the likely impact of future climate change.


Wave climate Climate change Parametric wave model Sea ice Wave–ice interactions Gulf of St. Lawrence 



This project is a contribution to the research program of Québec-Océan and was funded by the government of Québec (Ministère des Transports du Québec). B. Ruest received research scholarships from the Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la nature et les technologies (FRQNT) and from the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). We thank the Ouranos consortium for providing CRCM simulations data. The ROM sea ice simulations for the GSL were also funded by the Ministère des Transports du Québec (project of S.S.) and we thank Simon St-Onge Drouin (ISMER) for his work on these simulations. We are also very grateful toward Adrien Lambert for his interest and ideas regarding the project. Finally, we thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments, which helped us to improve the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benoit Ruest
    • 1
  • Urs Neumeier
    • 1
  • Dany Dumont
    • 1
  • Eliott Bismuth
    • 1
  • Simon Senneville
    • 1
  • James Caveen
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut des sciences de la mer de Rimouski (ISMER)Université du Québec à RimouskiRimouskiCanada

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