Simulating sea level extremes from synthetic low-pressure systems

Särkkä, Jani; Räihä, Jani; Rantanen, Mika; Kämäräinen, Matti

In this article we present a method for numerical simulations of extreme sea levels using synthetic low-pressure systems as atmospheric forcing. Our simulations can be considered to be estimates of the high sea levels that may be reached when a low-pressure system of high intensity and optimal track passes the studied region. We test the method using sites located along the Baltic Sea coast and simulate synthetic cyclones with various tracks. To model the effects of the cyclone properties on sea level, we simulate internal Baltic Sea water level variations with a numerical two-dimensional hydrodynamic model, forced by an ensemble of time-dependent wind and air-pressure fields from synthetic cyclones. The storm surges caused by the synthetic cyclones come on top of the mean water level of the Baltic Sea, for which we used a fixed upper estimate of 100 cm. We find high extremes in the northern Bothnian Bay and in the eastern Gulf of Finland, where the sea level extreme due to the synthetic cyclone reaches up to 3.5 m. In the event that the mean water level of the Baltic Sea has a maximal value (1 m) during the cyclone, the highest sea levels of 4.5 m could thus be reached. We find our method to be suitable for use in further studies of sea level extremes.

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Särkkä, Jani / Räihä, Jani / Rantanen, Mika / et al: Simulating sea level extremes from synthetic low-pressure systems. 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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