Estimating present day extreme water level exceedance probabilities around the coastline of Australia: tropical cyclone-induced storm surges

Abstract

The incidence of major storm surges in the last decade have dramatically emphasized the immense destructive capabilities of extreme water level events, particularly when driven by severe tropical cyclones. Given this risk, it is vitally important that the exceedance probabilities of extreme water levels are accurately evaluated to inform risk-based flood and erosion management, engineering and for future land-use planning and to ensure the risk of catastrophic structural failures due to under-design or expensive wastes due to over-design are minimised. Australia has a long history of coastal flooding from tropical cyclones. Using a novel integration of two modeling techniques, this paper provides the first estimates of present day extreme water level exceedance probabilities around the whole coastline of Australia, and the first estimates that combine the influence of astronomical tides, storm surges generated by both extra-tropical and tropical cyclones, and seasonal and inter-annual variations in mean sea level. Initially, an analysis of tide gauge records has been used to assess the characteristics of tropical cyclone-induced surges around Australia. However, given the dearth (temporal and spatial) of information around much of the coastline, and therefore the inability of these gauge records to adequately describe the regional climatology, an observationally based stochastic tropical cyclone model has been developed to synthetically extend the tropical cyclone record to 10,000 years. Wind and pressure fields derived for these synthetically generated events have then been used to drive a hydrodynamic model of the Australian continental shelf region with annual maximum water levels extracted to estimate exceedance probabilities around the coastline. To validate this methodology, selected historic storm surge events have been simulated and resultant storm surges compared with gauge records. Tropical cyclone induced exceedance probabilities have been combined with estimates derived from a 61-year water level hindcast described in a companion paper to give a single estimate of present day extreme water level probabilities around the whole coastline of Australia. Results of this work are freely available to coastal engineers, managers and researchers via a web-based tool (www.sealevelrise.info). The described methodology could be applied to other regions of the world, like the US east coast, that are subject to both extra-tropical and tropical cyclones.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14
Fig. 15
Fig. 16
Fig. 17

References

  1. Bindoff NL, Willebrand J, Artale V, Cazenave A, Gregory J, Gulev S, Hanawa K, Le Quéré C, Levitus S, Nojiri Y, Shum CK, Talley LD, Unnikrishnan A (2007) Observations: Oceanic climate change and sea level. In: Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds) Contribution of working group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp 385–432

  2. Cardone VJ, Cox AT, Greenwood JA, Thompson EF (1994) Upgrade of tropical cyclone surface wind field model. Miscellaneous Paper, CERC-94-14, prepared for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (101 pp)

  3. Church JA, Gregory JM, White NJ, Platten SM, Mitrovica JX (2011) Understanding and projecting sea level change. Oceanography (J Oceanogr Soc) 24(2):130–143

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Colberg F, McInnes KL (2012) The impact of storminess changes on extreme sea levels over southern Australia. JGR-Oceans, doi:10.1029/2012JC007919.

  5. Coles S (2001) An introduction to statistical modelling of extreme values. Springer, Berlin 207 pp

    Book  Google Scholar 

  6. Danish Hydraulic Institute (2013) Mike 21 & Mike 3 flow model FM. Hydrodynamic and transport module scientific documentation. http://www.dhisoftware.com/Download/DocumentsAndTools/~/media/Microsite_MIKEbyDHI/Publications/PDF/Short%20descriptions/MIKE213_FM_HD_Short_Description.ashx

  7. Egbert GD, Erofeeva S (2002) Efficient inverse modeling of barotropic ocean tides. J Atmos Ocean Technol 19(2):183–204

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Eliot M, Pattiaratchi C (2010) Remote forcing of water levels by tropical cyclones in southwest Australia. Cont Shelf Res 30(14):1549–1561

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Georgiou PN, Davenport AG, Vickery BJ (1983) Design wind speeds in regions dominated by tropical cyclones. J Wind Eng Ind Aerodyn 13:139–152

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Grinsted A, Moore JC, Jevrejeva S (2010) Reconstructing sea level from paleo and projected temperatures 200–2100 ad. Clim Dyn 34(4):461–472

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Haigh ID, Wijeratne EMS, MacPherson LR, Pattiaratchi CB, George S (2013) Estimating present day extreme total water level exceedance probabilities around the coastline of Australia: tides, extra-tropical storm surges and mean sea level. Clim Dyn. doi:10.1007/s00382-012-1652-1

  12. Haigh ID, Pattiaratchi C (2010) 21st century changes in extreme sea levels around Western Australia. In: Proceedings of the 17th National Australian Meteorological & Oceanographic Society Conference, Canberra, Australia

  13. Haigh ID, Nicholls RJ, Wells NC (2011) Rising sea levels in the english channel 1900–2100. Proc ICE Marit Eng 164(2):81–92

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Hardy TA, McConochie JD, Mason LB (2003) Modeling tropical cyclone wave population of the Great Barrier Reef. J Waterway Port Coastal Ocean Eng 129:104–113

    Google Scholar 

  15. Harper BA (ed) (2001) Queensland climate change and community vulnerability to tropical cyclones—ocean hazards assessment stage 1—review of technical requirements. Report prepared by Systems Engineering Australia Pty Ltd in association with James Cook University Marine Modelling Unit, Queensland Government, 375 pp, March 2001

  16. Harper BA, Holland GJ (1999) An updated parametric model of the tropical cyclone. In: 23rd conference on hurricanes and tropical meteorology, 893–896

  17. Harper BA, Stroud SA, McCormack M, West S (2008) A review of historical tropical cyclone intensity in northwestern Australia and implications for climate change trend analysis. Aust Meteorol Mag 57:121–141

    Google Scholar 

  18. Harper B, Hardy T, Mason L, Fryar R (2009) Developments in storm tide modelling and risk assessment in the Australian region. Nat Hazards 51:225–238

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Holland GJ (1980) An analytic model of the wind and pressure profiles in hurricanes. Mon Weather Rev 108:1212–1218

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Holland GJ (1981) On the quality of the Australian tropical cyclone data base. Aust Meteorol Mag 29:169–181

    Google Scholar 

  21. Holmes JD (2001) Wind loading of structures. Spon Press, London 356 pp

    Book  Google Scholar 

  22. Horsburgh KL, Wilson C (2007) Tide-surge interaction and its role in the distribution of surge residuals in the North Sea. J Geophys Res 112:CO8003

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Horton R, Herweijer C, Rosenzweig C, Liu J, Gornitz V, Ruane AC (2008) Sea level rise projections for current generation CGCMs based on the semi-empirical method. Geophys Res Lett 35(2):L02715

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Hunter J (2010) Estimating sea-level extremes under conditions of uncertain sea-level rise. Clim Change 99(3):331–350

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Hunter J (2011) A simple technique for estimating an allowance for uncertain sea-level rise. Clim Change. doi:10.1007/s10584-011-0332-1

  26. James MK, Mason LB (2005) Synthetic tropical cyclone database. J Waterw Port Coastal Ocean Eng 131(4):181–192

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Jevrejeva S, Moore JC, Grinsted A (2010) How will sea level respond to changes in natural and anthropogenic forcings by 2100? Geophys Res Lett 37(7):L07703

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Kaplan J, DeMaria M (1995) A simple empirical model for predicting the decay of tropical cyclone winds after landfall. J Appl Meteorol 34:2499–2512

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Kepert J (2001) The dynamics of boundary layer jets within the tropical cyclone core. Part 1: linear Theory. J Atmos Sci 58:2469–2484

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Kistler R, Kalnay E, Collins W, Saha S, White G, Woollen J, Chelliah M, Ebisuzaki W, Kanamitsu M, Kousky V, Dool H, Jenne R, Fiorino M (2001) The NCEP-NCAR 50-year Reanalysis: monthly Means CD ROM and documentation. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 82(2):247–267

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Lowe JA, Woodworth PL, Knutson T, McDonald RE, McInnes K, Woth K, Von Storch H, Wolf J, Swail V, Bernier N, Gulev S, Horsburgh K, Unnikrishnan AS, Hunter J, Weisse R (2010) Past and future changes in extreme water levels and waves. In: Church JA, Woodworth PL, Aarup T, Wilson S (eds) Understanding sea-level rise and variability. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  32. McConochie JD, Mason LB, Hardy TA (1999) A Coral Sea cyclone wind model intended for wave modelling. In: Proceedings of 14th conference on coastal and ocean engineering, IEAust, Perth, pp 413–418

  33. McConochie JD, Hardy TA, Mason LB (2004) Modelling tropical cyclone over-water wind and pressure fields. Ocean Eng 31:1757–1782

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. McInnes KL, Walsh KJE, Hubbert GD, Beer T (2003) Impact of sea-level rise and storm surges on a coastal community. Nat Hazards 30(2):187–207

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. McInnes KL, Macadam I, Hubbert GD, O'Grady JD (2009) A modelling approach for estimating the frequency of sea level extremes and the impact of climate change in southeast Australia. Nat Hazards 51:115–137

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. McInnes KL, Macadam I, Hubbert GD, O’Grady JG (2011a) An assessment of current and future vulnerability to coastal inundation due to sea level extremes in Victoria, southeast Australia. Int J Clim. doi:10.1002/joc.3405

  37. McInnes KL, O’Grady JG, Hemer M, Macadam I, Abbs DJ, White CJ, Bennett JC, Corney SP, Holz GK, Grose MR, Gaynor SM, Bindoff NL (2011b) Climate future for Tasmania: Extreme tide and sea-level events. Technical Report, Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Corporate Research Centre

  38. Meehl GA, Stocker TF, Collins WD, Friedlingstein P, Gaye AT, Gregory JM, Kitoh A, Knutti R, Murphy JM, Noda A, Raper SCB, Watterson IG, Weaver AJ, Zhao ZC (2007) Global climate projections. In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds) Climate change 2007: The physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp 747–845

  39. Menéndez M, Woodworth PL (2010) Changes in extreme high water levels based on a quasi-global tide-gauge dataset. J Geophys Res 115(C10):C10011

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Nicholls RJ, Marinova N, Lowe JA, Brown S, Vellinga P, de Gusmao D, Hinkel J, Tol RSJ (2011) Sea-level rise and its possible impacts given a ‘beyond 4°C world’ in the twenty-first century. Philos Trans R Soc A Math Phys Eng Sci 369(1934):161–181

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Nott J, Hayne M (2000) How high was the storm surge from tropical cyclone Mahina. Aust J Emerg Manag 15:11–13

    Google Scholar 

  42. O’Grady JG, McInnes KL (2010) Extreme wind waves and their relationship to storm surges in northeastern Bass Strait. Aust Meteorol Oceanogr J 60:265–275

    Google Scholar 

  43. Pawlowicz R, Beardsley B, Lentz S (2002) Classical tidal harmonic analysis including error estimates in MATLAB using T_TIDE. Comput Geosci 28(8):929–937

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Pugh DT (2004) Changing sea levels: effects of tides, weather and climate. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 280 pp

    Google Scholar 

  45. Rahmstorf S (2007) A semi-empirical approach to projecting future sea-level rise. Science 315(5810):368–370

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Seneviratne SI, Nicholls N, Easterling D, Goodess CM, Kanae S, Kossin J, Luo Y, Marengo J, McInnes K, Rahimi M, Reichstein M, Sorteberg A, Vera C, Zhang X (2012) Changes in climate extremes and their impacts on the natural physical environment. In: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. Editors: Field CB, Barros V, Stocker TF, Qin D, Dokken DJ, Ebi KL, Mastrandrea MD, Mach KJ, Plattner GK, Allen SK, Tignor M, Midgley PM. A Special Report of Working Groups I and II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, and New York, NY, USA, pp 109–230

  47. Simiu E, Scanlan RH (1986) Wind effects on structures, 2nd edn. Wiley-Interscience, New York

    Google Scholar 

  48. Uhlhorn EW, Black PG, Franklin JL, Goodberlet M, Carswell J, Goldstein AS (2007) Hurricane surface wind measurements from an operational stepped frequency microwave radiometer. Mon Weather Rev 135:3070–3085

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Vermeer M, Rahmstorf S (2009) Global sea level linked to global temperature. Proc Natl Acad Sci 106:21527

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Vickery PJ, Skerlj PF, Twisdale LA (2000) Simulation of hurricane risk in the U.S. using empirical track model. J Struct Eng 126(10):1222–1237

    Google Scholar 

  51. Woodworth PL, Blackman DL (2004) Evidence for systematic changes in extreme high waters since the mid-1970s. J Clim 17(6):1190–1197

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the Australian National Tidal Centre, Western Australian Department of Transport, Sydney Ports Corporation and Fremantle Ports for supplying the tide-gauge datasets, Tessa Jakszewicz for managing the project, and Matthew Eliot for useful discussions regarding the study. We would also like to acknowledge Kathleen McInnes, Robert Nicholls, Thomas Wahl and Phil Watson whose helpful comments and suggestions greatly improved the final paper. This study was funded by the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and the Western Australian Department of Transport, and builds on an earlier study funded by the Western Australian Marine Science Institution.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Leigh R. MacPherson.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Haigh, I.D., MacPherson, L.R., Mason, M.S. et al. Estimating present day extreme water level exceedance probabilities around the coastline of Australia: tropical cyclone-induced storm surges. Clim Dyn 42, 139–157 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-012-1653-0

Download citation

Keywords

  • Extreme water levels
  • Storm surges
  • Tides
  • Extra-tropical cyclones
  • Tropical cyclones
  • Hurricanes
  • Return levels
  • Return periods
  • Australia