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Will the wind associated with the Adriatic storm surges change in future climate?

A Correction to this article was published on 14 October 2020

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Abstract

Flooding of the Adriatic coastline is predominantly caused by storm surges induced by winds from the south-eastern sector. This phenomenon in Venice is known as acqua alta. We present a study of wind fields favouring storm-surge setups in the Adriatic, including their characteristics in the present climate and their expected characteristics in future scenarios. Analysis is based on (i) measured sea levels in Venice and Bakar (1984–2014), (ii) near-surface wind from ERA5 reanalysis, and (iii) simulations of wind fields with three regional climate models (ALADIN52, RCA4, and RegCM4) forced with several global models (CNRM-CM, MPI-ESM-MR/LR, HadGEM2-ES, EC-EARTH, and IPSL-CM5). For future climates, we considered two scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) and two future periods (2041–2070 and 2071–2100) with respect to the historical 1971–2000 period. It was found that the probability that the frequency, intensity, annual cycle, and spatial structure of the wind inducing the Adriatic storm surges will change in future climates is small. The result is robust and consistent according to all considered criteria—it does not depend on the analysed regional climate models, boundary conditions, climate scenarios, or future time interval.

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Change history

  • 14 October 2020

    In the original version of this article the authors unfortunately failed to state the source of sea-level data at Venice.

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Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Hrvoje Mihanović (Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography, Split) for his help with Matlab scripts and fruitful discussion. The EURO-CORDEX data used in this work were obtained from the Earth System Grid Federation server (https://esgfdata.dkrz.de/projects/esgf-dkrz/). The Med-CORDEX data used in this work were obtained from the Med-CORDEX server (www.medcordex.eu). We are grateful to all EURO-CORDEX and Med-CORDEX modelling groups that performed the simulations and made their data available. We acknowledge the World Climate Research Programme’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling, which is responsible for CMIP, and we thank the climate modelling groups for producing and making available their model output. And last but not least, many thanks to anonymous reviewer for his/her helpful comments and suggestions which made this work better.

Funding

This work was supported by the Croatian Science Foundation under the projects CARE (grant number HRZZ-IP-2013-11-2831) and MAUD (grant number HRZZ-IP-2018-01-9849). RegCM4 simulations analysed in this study were performed as a part of the Croatian Ministry of Environment and Energy project “Strengthening the Capacity of the Ministry of Environment and Energy for Climate Change Adaptation and development of the Draft Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation (Contract number: TF/HR/P3-M1-O1-010)” funded by the EU Transition Facility.

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Appendix 1. Estimation of sea-level trends and difference between two locations

Appendix 1. Estimation of sea-level trends and difference between two locations

Here, we describe the method used to determine non-atmospherically related sea-level trends in Venice and Bakar. Generally, different processes can cause changes of the mean sea level that are recorded at a location by a tide gauge: direct atmospheric forcing, thermohaline processes, mass changes, and crustal movements. Here, it was necessary to separate the sea-level trend caused by direct atmospheric forcing from that caused by other processes. To do so, we use the fact that sea-level anomalies, i.e. departures of sea level from the mean seasonal cycle, are highly correlated with respective anomalies of air pressure (Orlić and Pasarić 2000). Parameters of linear regression between the two time series are applied to air pressure anomalies to obtain the sea-level variability due to direct atmospheric forcing. Once this part is subtracted from the observed sea-level data, the residual time series exhibits a trend that is presumably related to the latter three processes.

The analysis was conducted on time series of monthly mean values of sea level (zm) and air pressure (pm). These were used to calculate the mean seasonal cycles of sea level (zs) and air pressure (ps) as long-term averages of values for each month and to obtain the respective anomalies (za = zmzs; pa = pmps). Linear regression between sea-level anomalies and air pressure anomalies, za = A·pa + ε, where ε is the error term, yields an adjustment of sea level in the northern Adriatic (A = − 2.15 cm/hPa at Bakar, A = − 2.07 cm/hPa at Venice, with correlation coefficient r = 0.84 for Bakar, r = 0.81 for Venice) that is two times stronger than the inverse barometer effect. The overshoot is due to wind forcing that acts coherently and in the same sense as the air pressure forcing (Pasarić et al. 2000). The non-seasonal sea-level variability induced by air pressure and wind forcing, zp = A·pa, and subsequently the residual time series, zr = zazp, that is related to thermohaline forcing, global mass change, and vertical land movements is evaluated to determine the trend in sea level that is not imposed by the direct atmospheric forcing. Time series of annual mean sea level, the atmospherically induced sea level, and the residual part with the respective linear trends (a, ap, ar) are shown in Fig. 13. The linear trends with their uncertainty intervals were determined using Bayesian statistics to take into account autocorrelation within the time series (Orlić et al. 2018). The sea-level trends are much larger than those reported for the 1960–2000 interval (Marcos and Tsimplis 2008). They reflect the fact that over the last two decades, the sea-level rise in the Adriatic and elsewhere in the Mediterranean has been accelerating (Orlić et al. 2018). The trend in Venice is more consistent with the values for the 1993–2015 period (Vignudelli et al. 2019). Furthermore, the total sea-level rise (a), as well as the rise of the residual sea level (ar), is much higher in Venice than in Bakar. The difference can partly be attributed to the land subsidence in Venice that is still ongoing at a rate of some 1.0 ± 0.7 mm/year (Tosi et al. 2013). However, a detailed analysis of sea-level trends is beyond the scope of this study.

Fig. 13
figure13

Time series of annual mean sea level at Venice and Bakar: total sea level, variability induced by direct atmospheric forcing, and the residual sea level. Also shown are the respective trends (a, ap, ar), with the 90% credible intervals in brackets

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Međugorac, I., Pasarić, M. & Güttler, I. Will the wind associated with the Adriatic storm surges change in future climate?. Theor Appl Climatol 143, 1–18 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-020-03379-x

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