Future wave climate over the west-European shelf seas
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In this paper, we investigate changes in the wave climate of the west-European shelf seas under global warming scenarios. In particular, climate change wind fields corresponding to the present (control) time-slice 1961-2000 and the future (scenario) time-slice 2061-2100 are used to drive a wave generation model to produce equivalent control and scenario wave climate. Yearly and seasonal statistics of the scenario wave climates are compared individually to the corresponding control wave climate to identify relative changes of statistical significance between present and future extreme and prevailing wave heights. Using global, regional and linked global-regional wind forcing over a set of nested computational domains, this paper further demonstrates the sensitivity of the results to the resolution and coverage of the forcing. It suggests that the use of combined forcing from linked global and regional climate models of typical resolution and coverage is a good option for the investigation of relative wave changes in the region of interest of this study. Coarse resolution global forcing alone leads to very similar results over regions that are highly exposed to the Atlantic Ocean. In contrast, fine resolution regional forcing alone is shown to be insufficient for exploring wave climate changes over the western European waters because of its limited coverage. Results obtained with the combined global-regional wind forcing showed some consistency between scenarios. In general, it was shown that mean and extreme wave heights will increase in the future only in winter and only in the southwest of UK and west of France, north of about 44-45° N. Otherwise, wave heights are projected to decrease, especially in summer. Nevertheless, this decrease is dominated by local wind waves whilst swell is found to increase. Only in spring do both swell and local wind waves decrease in average height. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.
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