Assessment of meteorological climate models as inputs for coastal studies
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Modeling studies of future changes in coastal hydrodynamics, in terms of storm surges and wave climate, need appropriate wind and atmospheric forcings, a necessary requirement for the realistic reproduction of the statistics and the resolution of small scale features. This work compares meteorological results from different climate models in the Mediterranean area, with a focus on the Adriatic Sea, in order to assess their capability to reproduce coastal meteorological features and their possibility to be used as forcings for hydrodynamic simulations. Five meteorological datasets are considered. They are obtained from two regional climate models, implemented with different spatial resolutions and setups and are downscaled from two different global climate models. Wind and atmospheric pressure fields are compared with measurements at four stations along the Italian Adriatic coast. The analysis is carried out both on simulations of the control period 1960–1990 and on the A1B Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change scenario projections (2070–2100), highlighting the ability of each model in reproducing the statistical coastal meteorological behavior and possible changes. The importance of simulated global- and regional-scale meteorological processes, in terms of correct spatial resolution of the phenomena, is also discussed. Within the Adriatic Sea, the meteorological climate is influenced by the local orography that controls the strengthening of north-eastern katabatic winds like Bora. Results show indeed that the increase in spatial resolution provides a more realistic wind forcing for the hydrodynamic simulations. Moreover, the chosen setup and the global climate models that drive the regional downscalings appear to play an important role in reproducing correct atmospheric pressure fields. The comparison between scenario and control simulations shows a small increase in the mean atmospheric pressure values, while a decrease in mean wind speed and in extreme wind events is observed, particularly for the datasets with higher spatial resolution. Finally, results suggest that an ensemble of downscaled climate models is likely to provide the most suitable climatic forcings (wind and atmospheric pressure fields) for coastal hydrodynamic modeling.
KeywordsClimate change Regional downscaling Meteorological forcing Coastal processes Adriatic Sea
The support of the European Commission through FP7.2009-1, Contract 244104—THESEUS (“Innovative technologies for safer European coasts in a changing climate”) is gratefully acknowledged. The authors want to thank the World Data Center for Climate, Hamburg, for the provision of the S18E5 dataset. Thanks also to Professor B. Rajković for producing the E dataset and Dr. E. Scoccimarro for the help in handling the E dataset. The authors also want to thank the anonymous reviewers that helped in improving this work with their precious comments.
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