Wave Climate Change in the North Sea and Baltic Sea


Wave climate change by the end of the 21st century (2075–2100) was investigated using a regional wave climate projection under the RCP 8.5 scenario. The performance of the historical run (1980–2005) in representing the present wave climate was assessed when compared with in situ (e.g., GTS) and remote sensing (i.e., Jason-1) observations and wave hindcasts (e.g., ERA5-hindcast). Compared with significant wave height observations in different subdomains, errors on the order of 20–30% were observed. A Principal Component (PC) analysis showed that the temporal leading modes obtained from in situ data were well correlated (0.9) with those from the historical run. Despite systematic differences (10%), the general features of the present wave climate were captured by the historical run. In the future climate projection, with respect to the historical run, similar wave climate change patterns were observed when considering both the mean and severe wave conditions, which were generally larger during summer. The range of variation in the projected extremes (±10%) was consistent with those observed in previous studies both at the global and regional spatial scales. The most interesting feature was the projected increase in extreme wind speed, surface Stokes drift speed and significant wave height in the Northeast Atlantic. On the other hand, a decrease was observed in the North Sea and the southern part of the Baltic Sea basin, while increased extreme values occurred in the Gulf of Bothnia during winter.
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