An 8-yr meteotsunami climatology across northwest Europe: 2010–2017

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  • 1 Department of Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom
  • 2 School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
  • 3 National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool, United Kingdom
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Abstract

Meteotsunamis are shallow-water waves that, despite often being small (~ 0.3 m), can cause damage, injuries and fatalities due to relatively strong currents (> 1 m s−1). Previous case studies, modelling and localised climatologies have indicated that dangerous meteotsunamis can occur across northwest Europe. Using 71 tide gauges across northwest Europe between 2010–2017, a regional climatology was made to understand the typical sizes, times and atmospheric systems that generate meteotsunamis. A total of 349 meteotsunamis (54.0 meteotsunamis per year) were identified with 0.27–0.40 m median wave heights. The largest waves (~ 1 m high) were measured in France and the Republic of Ireland. Most meteotsunamis were identified in winter (43–59%), and the fewest identified meteotsunamis occurred in either spring or summer (0–15%). There was a weak diurnal signal, with most meteotsunami identifications between 1200–1859 UTC (30%) and fewest between 0000–0659 UTC (23%). Radar-derived precipitation was used to identify and classify the morphologies of mesoscale precipitating weather systems occurring within 6 h of each meteotsunami. Most mesoscale atmospheric systems were quasi-linear systems (46%) or open-cellular convection (33%), with some non-linear clusters (17%) and a few isolated cells (4%). These systems occurred under westerly geostrophic flow, with Proudman resonance possible in 43 out of 45 selected meteotsunamis. Because most meteotsunamis occur on cold winter days, with precipitation, and in large tides, wintertime meteotsunamis may be missed by eyewitnesses, helping to explain why previous observationally-based case studies of meteotsunamis are documented predominantly in summer.

Current affiliation: Willis Towers Watson, London, United Kingdom.

Corresponding author: David Williams, davidwilliams0100@gmail.com

Abstract

Meteotsunamis are shallow-water waves that, despite often being small (~ 0.3 m), can cause damage, injuries and fatalities due to relatively strong currents (> 1 m s−1). Previous case studies, modelling and localised climatologies have indicated that dangerous meteotsunamis can occur across northwest Europe. Using 71 tide gauges across northwest Europe between 2010–2017, a regional climatology was made to understand the typical sizes, times and atmospheric systems that generate meteotsunamis. A total of 349 meteotsunamis (54.0 meteotsunamis per year) were identified with 0.27–0.40 m median wave heights. The largest waves (~ 1 m high) were measured in France and the Republic of Ireland. Most meteotsunamis were identified in winter (43–59%), and the fewest identified meteotsunamis occurred in either spring or summer (0–15%). There was a weak diurnal signal, with most meteotsunami identifications between 1200–1859 UTC (30%) and fewest between 0000–0659 UTC (23%). Radar-derived precipitation was used to identify and classify the morphologies of mesoscale precipitating weather systems occurring within 6 h of each meteotsunami. Most mesoscale atmospheric systems were quasi-linear systems (46%) or open-cellular convection (33%), with some non-linear clusters (17%) and a few isolated cells (4%). These systems occurred under westerly geostrophic flow, with Proudman resonance possible in 43 out of 45 selected meteotsunamis. Because most meteotsunamis occur on cold winter days, with precipitation, and in large tides, wintertime meteotsunamis may be missed by eyewitnesses, helping to explain why previous observationally-based case studies of meteotsunamis are documented predominantly in summer.

Current affiliation: Willis Towers Watson, London, United Kingdom.

Corresponding author: David Williams, davidwilliams0100@gmail.com
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