Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 68, Issue 12, pp 1759–1777 | Cite as

Simulation of the 1953 storm surge in the North Sea

  • Byung Ho Choi
  • Kyeong Ok Kim
  • Jin-Hee Yuk
  • Han Soo LeeEmail author
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on the 15th International Workshop on Wave Hindcasting and Forecasting in Liverpool, UK, September 10-15, 2017


The 1953 North Sea floods, the Big Flood, was one of the worst natural disasters in Europe in modern times and is probably one of the most studied severe coastal floods. Several factors led to the devastating storm surge along the southern North Sea coast in combination of strong and sustained northerly winds, invert barometric effect, high spring tide, and an accumulation of the large surge in the Strait of Dover. However, the storm waves and their roles during the 1953 North Sea storm surge are not well investigated. Therefore, the effect of wave setup due to breaking waves in the storm surge processes is investigated through numerical experiments. A coupled process-based tide-wave-surge model was used to investigate and simulate the storm surge in the North Sea during January 31–February 1, 1953 and validated by comparing with historical water level records at tide gauges and wave observations at light vessels in the North Sea. Meteorological forcing inputs for the period, January 27–February 3, 1953 are reproduced from ERA-20C reanalysis data with a constant correction factor for winds. From the simulation results, it is found that, in addition to the high water due to wind setup, wave setup due to breaking waves nearshore play a role of approximately 10% of the storm surge peaks with approximately 0.2 m. The resulting modeling system can be used extensively for the preparedness of the storm surge and wave of extreme condition, and usual barotropic forecast.


Storm surge The North Sea Wave setup Coupled wave-tide-surge model Unstructured mesh 1953 North Sea storm 



We thank two anonymous reviewers, whose valuable comments helped us improve the quality of this paper.

Funding information

The study was supported by the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (17K06577) from JSPS, Japan, and the project titled ‘Study of Air-Sea Interaction and Process of RI Typhoon’, funded by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Korea. The study was also supported by the project entitled ‘Solving Grand-challenge Problems in Science and Engineering to Expand Utilization of Supercomputing’ at Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information.

Supplementary material

10236_2018_1223_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (5.5 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 5589 kb)
10236_2018_1223_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (46 kb)
Table 3 (XLSX 46 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringSungkyunkwan UniversitySuwonRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Marine Environmental Research CenterKorea Institute of Ocean Science and TechnologyBusanRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Division of National SupercomputingKorea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI)DaejeonRepublic of Korea
  4. 4.Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation (IDEC)Hiroshima UniversityHigashi-HiroshimaJapan

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