Natural Hazards

, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 1425–1446 | Cite as

Extreme surface and near-bottom currents in the northwest Atlantic

  • Eric C. J. Oliver
  • Jinyu Sheng
  • Keith R. Thompson
  • Jorge R. Urrego Blanco
Original Paper

Abstract

This study presents a methodology for estimating extreme current speeds from numerical model results using extremal analysis techniques. This method is used to estimate the extreme near-surface and near-bottom current speeds of the northwest Atlantic Ocean with 50-year return periods from 17 years of model output. The non-tidal currents produced by a three-dimensional ocean circulation model for the 1988–2004 period were first used to estimate and map the 17-year return period extreme current speeds at the surface and near the bottom. Extremal analysis techniques (i.e., fitting the annual maxima to the Type I probability distribution) are used to estimate and map the 50-year extreme current speeds. Tidal currents are dominant in some parts of the northwest Atlantic, and a Monte Carlo-based methodology is developed to take into account the fact that large non-tidal extrema may occur at different tidal phases. The inclusion of tidal currents in this way modifies the estimated 50-year extreme current speeds, and this is illustrated along several representative transects and depth profiles. Seasonal variations are examined by calculating the extreme current speeds for fall-winter and spring–summer. Finally, the distribution of extreme currents is interpreted taking into account (1) variability about the time-mean current speeds, (2) wind-driven Ekman currents, and (3) flow along isobaths.

Keywords

Extreme current speeds Extremal analysis Northwest Atlantic Ocean circulation model Monte Carlo methods 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Kyoko Ohashi for providing the code used to generate tidal current predictions. The work was also supported by The Lloyd’s Register Educational Trust (The LRET), which is an independent charity working to achieve advances in transportation, science, engineering and technology education, training, and research worldwide for the benefit of all. The authors would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric C. J. Oliver
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jinyu Sheng
    • 1
  • Keith R. Thompson
    • 1
  • Jorge R. Urrego Blanco
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of OceanographyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Institute for Marine and Antarctic StudiesUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

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