Atmospheric processes responsible for generation of the 2008 Boothbay meteotsunami
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We investigated the atmospheric processes and physics that were active during a tsunami-like event hitting Boothbay Harbor area (Maine, USA) on 28 October 2008. The data collected by tide gauges, ground and sounding stations and meteo–ocean buoys in the area were analyzed, together with satellite and radar images. The atmospheric processes were reproduced by the weather research and forecasting model, verified by in situ and remote sensing data. A cold front moved over the area at the time of the event, with embedded convective clouds detected by satellite and radar data and the internal gravity waves (IGWs) detected by radar and reproduced by the model at the rear of the frontal precipitation band. According to the model, the IGWs that passed over Boothbay Harbor generated strong ground air-pressure oscillations reaching 2.5 hPa/3 min. The IGWs were ducted towards the coast without significant dissipation, propagating in a stable near-surface layer capped by an instability at approximately 3.5 km height and satisfying all conditions for their maintenance over larger areas. The intensity, speed and direction of the IGWs were favourable for generation of a meteotsunami wave along the Gulf of Maine shelf. Operational observation systems were not capable of sufficiently capturing the ground disturbance due to a too coarse sampling rate, while the numerical model was found to be a useful tool in eventual future detection and warning systems.
KeywordsMeteotsunami Meteo and ocean data Mesoscale atmospheric modelling Atmospheric gravity waves U.S. East Coast
We would like to thank NOAA and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, in particular John Jensenius and Linda Mangum, who provided us with the data observed at GoMOOS/NERACOOS buoys during the event (http://neracoos.org) and Kristopher Bedka from Science Systems and Applications Inc., NASA Langley Research Center, for assisting with GOES satellite data. Tide gauge data were obtained from the NOAA CO-OPS website at http://opendap.co-ops.nos.noaa.gov/axis/webservices, while vertical sounding data were obtained from the University of Wyoming website at http://weather.uwyo.edu/upperair/sounding.html. Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Service accounted for the provision of computational resources for numerical simulations. Comments raised by two anonymous reviewers, the Editor, Jadranka Šepić and Paul Whitmore are appreciated. This work was performed within the NOAA/NWS project ‘Towards a meteotsunami warning system along the U.S. coastline (TMEWS)’, Award No. NA11NWS4670005.
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