04 Apr 2022
04 Apr 2022

Modelled storm surge changes in a warmer world: the Last Interglacial

Paolo Scussolini1, Job Dullaart1, Sanne Muis1,2, Alessio Rovere3,4, Pepijn Bakker5, Dim Coumou1, Hans Renssen6, Philip J. Ward1, and Jeroen C. J. H. Aerts1,2 Paolo Scussolini et al.
  • 1Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 2Deltares, Delft, The Netherlands
  • 3Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy
  • 4MARUM, Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Germany
  • 5Earth and Climate Cluster, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 6University of South-Eastern Norway, Bø, Norway

Abstract. The Last Interglacial (LIG; ca. 125 ka) is a period of interest for climate research as it is the most recent period of the Earth’s history when the boreal climate was warmer than at present. Previous research, based on models and geological evidence, suggests that the LIG may have featured enhanced patterns of ocean storminess, but this remains hotly debated. Here, we apply state-of-the-art climate and hydrodynamic modeling to simulate changes in extreme sea levels caused by storm surges, under LIG and pre-industrial climate forcings. Significantly higher seasonal LIG sea level extremes emerge for the Gulf of Carpentaria, parts of Indonesia, the Mediterranean Sea and northern Africa, the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the Persian Gulf, Pakistan, northwest India, and islands of the Pacific Ocean and of the Caribbean. Lower LIG sea level extremes emerge for the Baltic and North Seas, the Bay of Bengal, China and Vietnam. Some of these anomalies are clearly associated with anomalies in seasonal sea level pressure minima, and potentially also originate from anomalies in the meridional position and intensity of the predominant wind bands. In a qualitative comparison, LIG sea level extremes seem generally higher than those projected for future warmer climates. These results help to constrain the interpretation of coastal archives of LIG sea level indicators.

Paolo Scussolini et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-101', Anonymous Referee #1, 13 Apr 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Paolo Scussolini, 30 Aug 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-101', Anonymous Referee #2, 31 May 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Paolo Scussolini, 30 Aug 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-101', Anonymous Referee #3, 29 Jun 2022
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Paolo Scussolini, 30 Aug 2022

Paolo Scussolini et al.

Paolo Scussolini et al.


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Short summary
Extremes of sea level at the coast are mostly generated by the temporary surges of ocean water associated with storms. It would be very valuable to understand how a changing climate will affect the occurrence of storms and thus coastal sea level extremes, but uncertainties are large. To increase our knowledge in this field, we adopt a modeling approach to study sea level extremes in a past period of climate that was warmer than the present, the Last Interglacial.