Downscaling Changing Coastlines in a Changing Climate: The Hybrid Approach
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AuthorÁlvarez Antolínez, José Antonio; Murray, A. Brad; Méndez Incera, Fernando Javier; Moore, Laura J.; Farley, Graham; Wood, James
Shifts in the frequency of typical meteorological patterns in an ocean basin, over interannual to decadal time scales, cause shifts in the patterns of wave generation. Therefore, ocean basin-scale climate shifts produce shifts in the wave climates affecting the coastlines of the basin. We present a hybrid methodology for downscaling observed (or predicted) climate shifts into local nearshore wave climates and then into the associated coastline responses. A series of statistical analyses translate observed (or predicted) distributions of meteorological states into the deep water wave climate affecting a coastal region and dynamical modeling combined with statistical analyses transform the deep water wave climate into the nearshore wave climate affecting a particular coastline. Finally, dynamical modeling of coastline evolution hindcasts (or predicts) how coastline shapes respond to climate shifts. As a case study, we downscale from meteorological hindcast in the North Atlantic basin since 1870 to the responses of the shape of the coast of the Carolinas, USA. We test the hindcasts using shoreline change rates calculated from historical shorelines, because shifts in coastline shape equate to changes in the alongshore pattern of shoreline change rates from one historical period to another. Although limited by the availability of historical shorelines (and complicated by historical inlet openings), the observations are consistent with the predicted signal of ocean basin-scale climate change. The hybrid downscaling methodology, applied to the output of global climate models, can be used to help forecast future patterns of shoreline change related to future climate change scenarios.