Future behavior of wind wave extremes due to climate change
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©2021 The Authors Attribution 4.0 International
Scientific reports volume 11, Article number: 7869 (2021)
Nature Publishing Group
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ABSTRACT: Extreme waves will undergo changes in the future when exposed to different climate change scenarios. These changes are evaluated through the analysis of significant wave height (Hs) return values and are also compared with annual mean Hs projections. Hourly time series are analyzed through a seven-member ensemble of wave climate simulations and changes are estimated in Hs for return periods from 5 to 100 years by the end of the century under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios. Despite the underlying uncertainty that characterizes extremes, we obtain robust changes in extreme Hs over more than approximately 25% of the ocean surface. The results obtained conclude that increases cover wider areas and are larger in magnitude than decreases for higher return periods. The Southern Ocean is the region where the most robust increase in extreme Hs is projected, showing local increases of over 2 m regardless the analyzed return period under RCP8.5 scenario. On the contrary, the tropical north Pacific shows the most robust decrease in extreme Hs, with local decreases of over 1.5 m. Relevant divergences are found in several ocean regions between the projected behavior of mean and extreme wave conditions. For example, an increase in Hs return values and a decrease in annual mean Hs is found in the SE Indian, NW Atlantic and NE Pacific. Therefore, an extrapolation of the expected change in mean wave conditions to extremes in regions presenting such divergences should be adopted with caution, since it may lead to misinterpretation when used for the design of marine structures or in the evaluation of coastal flooding and erosion.