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The impact of future sea-level rise on the European Shelf tides

The impact of future sea-level rise on the European Shelf tides
The impact of future sea-level rise on the European Shelf tides
This paper investigates the effect of future sea-level rise (SLR) on the tides of the northwest European Continental Shelf. The European shelf tide is dominated by semidiurnal constituents. This study therefore focuses primarily on the changes in the M2 tidal constituent and the spring and neap tidal conditions. The validated operational Dutch Continental Shelf Model is run for the present day sea-level as well as 2 and 10 m SLR scenarios.

The M2 tidal amplitude responds to SLR in a spatially non-uniform manner, with substantial amplitude increases and decreases in both scenarios. The M2 tidal response is non-linear between 2 and 10 m with respect to SLR, particularly in the North Sea. Under the 2 m SLR scenario the M2 constituent is particularly responsive in the resonant areas of the Bristol Channel and Gulf of St. Malo (with large amplitude decreases) and in the southeastern German Bight and Dutch Wadden Sea (with large amplitude increases). Changes in the spring tide are generally greater still than those in the M2 or neap tides. With 2 m SLR the spring tidal range increases up to 35 cm at Cuxhaven and decreases up to ?49 cm at St. Malo. Additionally the changes in the shallow water tides are larger than expected. With SLR the depth, wave speed and wave length (tidal resonance characteristics) are increased causing changes in near resonant areas. In expansive shallow areas SLR causes reduced energy dissipation by bottom friction. Combined these mechanisms result in the migration of the amphidromes and complex patterns of non-linear change in the tide with SLR.

Despite the significant uncertainty associated with the rate of SLR over the next century, substantial alterations to tidal characteristics can be expected under a high end SLR scenario. Contrary to existing studies this paper highlights the importance of considering the modification of the tides by future SLR. These substantial future changes in the tides could have wide reaching implications; including for example, correctly calculating design level requirements for flood defences, the availability of tidal renewable energy and dredging requirements.
Sea-level rise, Climate change, Non-linear tidal change, European Shelf, Flood risk, Tidal resonance
0278-4343
1-15
Pickering, M.D.
9ba58ce5-8571-4593-955b-afe519814fb5
Wells, N.C.
4c27167c-f972-4822-9614-d6ca8d8223b5
Horsburgh, K.J.
cefa02ee-5150-4d3d-a3a0-cffcc0ed28b1
Green, J.A.M.
245d364e-6e9f-4aec-89c9-58cde92f41f4
Pickering, M.D.
9ba58ce5-8571-4593-955b-afe519814fb5
Wells, N.C.
4c27167c-f972-4822-9614-d6ca8d8223b5
Horsburgh, K.J.
cefa02ee-5150-4d3d-a3a0-cffcc0ed28b1
Green, J.A.M.
245d364e-6e9f-4aec-89c9-58cde92f41f4

Pickering, M.D., Wells, N.C., Horsburgh, K.J. and Green, J.A.M. (2012) The impact of future sea-level rise on the European Shelf tides. Continental Shelf Research, 35, 1-15. (doi:10.1016/j.csr.2011.11.011).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This paper investigates the effect of future sea-level rise (SLR) on the tides of the northwest European Continental Shelf. The European shelf tide is dominated by semidiurnal constituents. This study therefore focuses primarily on the changes in the M2 tidal constituent and the spring and neap tidal conditions. The validated operational Dutch Continental Shelf Model is run for the present day sea-level as well as 2 and 10 m SLR scenarios.

The M2 tidal amplitude responds to SLR in a spatially non-uniform manner, with substantial amplitude increases and decreases in both scenarios. The M2 tidal response is non-linear between 2 and 10 m with respect to SLR, particularly in the North Sea. Under the 2 m SLR scenario the M2 constituent is particularly responsive in the resonant areas of the Bristol Channel and Gulf of St. Malo (with large amplitude decreases) and in the southeastern German Bight and Dutch Wadden Sea (with large amplitude increases). Changes in the spring tide are generally greater still than those in the M2 or neap tides. With 2 m SLR the spring tidal range increases up to 35 cm at Cuxhaven and decreases up to ?49 cm at St. Malo. Additionally the changes in the shallow water tides are larger than expected. With SLR the depth, wave speed and wave length (tidal resonance characteristics) are increased causing changes in near resonant areas. In expansive shallow areas SLR causes reduced energy dissipation by bottom friction. Combined these mechanisms result in the migration of the amphidromes and complex patterns of non-linear change in the tide with SLR.

Despite the significant uncertainty associated with the rate of SLR over the next century, substantial alterations to tidal characteristics can be expected under a high end SLR scenario. Contrary to existing studies this paper highlights the importance of considering the modification of the tides by future SLR. These substantial future changes in the tides could have wide reaching implications; including for example, correctly calculating design level requirements for flood defences, the availability of tidal renewable energy and dredging requirements.

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More information

Published date: March 2012
Keywords: Sea-level rise, Climate change, Non-linear tidal change, European Shelf, Flood risk, Tidal resonance
Organisations: Physical Oceanography, National Oceanography Centre

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 333306
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/333306
ISSN: 0278-4343
PURE UUID: 537290c9-238e-430e-992c-7f344e4d22f7

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Date deposited: 01 Mar 2012 15:41
Last modified: 16 Jul 2019 22:10

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