Storm surges are key drivers of coastal flooding, which generate considerable risks. Strategies to manage these risks can hinge on the ability to (i) project the return periods of extreme storm surges and (ii) detect potential changes in their statistical properties. There are several lines of evidence linking rising global average temperatures and increasingly frequent extreme storm surges. This conclusion is, however, subject to considerable structural uncertainty. This leads to two main questions: What are projections under various plausible statistical models? How long would it take to distinguish among these plausible statistical models? We address these questions by analyzing observed and simulated storm surge data. We find that (1) there is a positive correlation between global mean temperature rise and increasing frequencies of extreme storm surges; (2) there is considerable uncertainty underlying the strength of this relationship; and (3) if the frequency of storm surges is increasing, this increase can be detected within a multidecadal timescale (≈20 years from now).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)