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Multi-Meteotsunami Event in the Adriatic Sea Generated by Atmospheric Disturbances of 25–26 June 2014

Abstract

A series of meteotsunamis hit a few locations in the Mediterranean and Black Seas during 22–27 June 2014. Meteotsunamis were particularly numerous on 25 and 26 June in the Adriatic Sea, where at least six harbours and bays were stricken by powerful waves: strongest events occurred in Vela Luka (Korčula Island), a known meteotsunami hot-spot, where waves reached height of ~3 m, and in Rijeka dubrovačka Bay, where strong ~5 m/s currents accompanied ~2.5 m high waves. Intensification of high-frequency sea level activity was observed at both the eastern and western Adriatic tide gauge stations, with maximum recorded wave heights reaching ~68 cm (Ortona, Italy). A series of individual air pressure disturbances characterized by pronounced rates of air pressure change (up to 2.4 hPa/5 min), limited spatial extent (~50 km) and high temporal variability, propagated over the Adriatic on 2 days in question. Numerical hydrodynamic model SCHISM forced by measured and idealised air pressure disturbances was utilised to reproduce the observed Adriatic sea level response. Several important conclusions were reached: (1) meteotsunamis occurring at various parts of the coast were generated by different atmospheric air pressure disturbances; (2) topographic influence can be removed from sea level spectra by computing spectral signal-to-background ratios; the result, being related to the external forcing, resembles atmospheric pressure spectra; (3) sea response is strongly dependant on details of atmospheric forcing; and (4) over complex bathymetries, like the middle and south Adriatic ones, numerous effects, including Proudman resonance, edge waves, strong topographical enhancement and refractions on the islands placed on the pathway of atmospheric disturbances should be taken into account to fully understand meteotsunami generation and dynamics. An in-depth numerical study is planned to supplement the latter conclusion and to quantify contribution of each process.

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Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge the following organizations and data portals for providing us with tide gauge and atmospheric data: UNESCO IOC, Paris (www.ioc-sealevelmonitoring.org); the Hydrographic Institute of the Republic of Croatia, Split; the Institute of Hydrometeorology and Seismology of Montenegro, Podgorica; the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, Split; Weather Underground (www.wunderground.com); Pljusak (pljusak.com). We are in debt to numerous eyewitnesses who provided testimony and photos of the events, especially to Joseph Jung from Vela Luka. We are also grateful to Seni Erceg and Stjepko Car who helped us gather valuable information on the Hvar events. The study has been supported by Croatian Science Foundation under the projects MESSI (UKF Contract No. 25/15), SCOOL (IP-2014-09-5747), CARE (IP-11-2013-2831) and ADAM-ADRIA (IP-2013-11-5928). Finally, we thank two anonymous reviewers and editor Alexander B. Rabinovich for their helpful comments and advices.

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Correspondence to Jadranka Šepić.

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Šepić, J., Međugorac, I., Janeković, I. et al. Multi-Meteotsunami Event in the Adriatic Sea Generated by Atmospheric Disturbances of 25–26 June 2014. Pure Appl. Geophys. 173, 4117–4138 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00024-016-1249-4

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Keywords

  • Meteotsunami
  • Adriatic Sea
  • hydrodynamic modelling
  • Proudman resonance
  • atmospheric pressure disturbances