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Severe flooding along the eastern Adriatic coast: the case of 1 December 2008

Abstract

This paper addresses an extraordinary storm surge in the Northern Adriatic that was more pronounced on the eastern than on the western shore. On 1 December 2008, Adriatic monitoring stations detected exceptionally high sea levels; the oldest Croatian tide gauge station recorded the highest water level in its operating history at the time. Apart from the Northern Adriatic, large portion of the Dalmatian Coast was also exposed to high water levels, while Venice experienced a less-dramatic event. This marine storm was different from the capital storm of 4 November 1966 during which the surge had the highest impact ahead of Venice and along the north-western coastline. The 2008 event is studied here in detail, and the mechanisms that resulted in the different flooding of the two shores are identified. The study is based on hourly sea level, air pressure and wind data measured along both basin sides together with ECMWF reanalysis fields. Four components of sea-level evolution are identified: the storm surge, tide, Adriatic seiche and, low-frequency variability. The 2008 event was the outcome of a fine interplay between the first three components, which were all superimposed on the raised sea level due to low-frequency variability. The marine storm differed from the 1966 storm in the atmospheric forcing and relative timing of all contributing processes. The 2008 flooding of the eastern coast was mainly due to the Sirocco-wind shear, whereas the 1966 flooding of the western coast was due to the combined effect of almost uniform Sirocco and bottom slope.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    All sea-level values reported in this paper are relative to the average values of the studied periods (see Section 2)

  2. 2.

    It should be mentioned that on 1 November 2012 sea level at Bakar surpassed the extreme on 1 December 2008 by 8 cm

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the following colleagues and institutions for providing data: Prof. Alberto Tomasin, Centro Nazionale di Meteorologia Climatologia Aeronautica, Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche, Croatia Control Ltd., Hydrographic Institute of the Republic of Croatia, Hydrological and Meteorological Service of Montenegro, Istituzione Centro Previsioni e Segnalazioni Maree, Italian Agency for Environmental Protection and Technical Services, Meteorological and Hydrological Service of the Republic of Croatia and Regione Abruzzo. Many thanks to Prof. Zoran Pasarić for assistance with data processing and to Zlatko Matica for his help with data digitisation. This work has been fully supported by Croatian Science Foundation under the project 2831 (CARE).

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Correspondence to Iva Međugorac.

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Responsible Editor: Emil Vassilev Stanev

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Međugorac, I., Pasarić, M. & Orlić, M. Severe flooding along the eastern Adriatic coast: the case of 1 December 2008. Ocean Dynamics 65, 817–830 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10236-015-0835-9

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Keywords

  • Northern Adriatic
  • Exceptional sea level
  • Acqua alta
  • Storm surge