AbstractThis study addresses impact of wind, waves, tidal forcing and baroclinicity on the sea level of the German Bight during extremes. The role of waves-induced processes, tides and baroclinicity is quantified and the results are compared with observational data that include various in-situ measurements as well as satellite data. A coupled, high-resolution, model system is used to simulate the wind waves, water level and three-dimensional hydrodynamics. The effects of the wind waves on sea level variability are studied accounting for wave-dependent stress, wave-breaking parameterization and wave-induced effects on vertical mixing. The analyses of the coupled model results reveal a closer match with observations than for the stand-alone circulation model, especially during the extreme storm Xaver in December 2013. The predicted surge of the coupled model enhances significantly during extremes when considering wave-current interaction processes. The wave-dependent approach yields to a contribution of more than 30 % in some coastal area during extremes. The improved skill resulting from the new developments justifies further use of coupled wave and three dimensional circulation models for improvement of coastal flooding predictions.