Still normal? Near-real-time evaluation of storm surge events in the context of climate change


Storm surges represent a major threat to many low-lying coastal areas in the world. In the aftermath of an extreme event, the extent to which the event was unusual and the potential contribution of climate change in shaping the event are often debated. Commonly analyzes that allow for such assessments are not available right away but are only provided with often considerable time delay. To address this gap, a new tool was developed and applied to storm surges along the German North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts. The tool integrates real-time measurements with long-term statistics to put ongoing extremes or the course of a storm surge season into a climatological perspective in near real time. The approach and the concept of the tool are described and discussed. To illustrate the capabilities, several exemplary cases from the storm surge seasons 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 are discussed. It is concluded that the tool provides support in the near-real-time assessment and evaluation of storm surge extremes. It is further argued that the concept is transferable to other regions and/or coastal hazards.
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