journal article

Investigation of historical severe storms and storm tides in the German Bight with century reanalysis data


Century reanalysis models offer a possibility to investigate extreme events and gain further insights into their impact through numerical experiments. This paper is a comprehensive summary of historical hazardous storm tides in the German Bight (southern North Sea) with the aim of comparing and evaluating the potential of different century reanalysis data to be used for the reconstruction of extreme water levels. The composite analysis of historical water level extremes, underlying atmospheric situations and their uncertainties may further support decision-making on coastal protection and risk assessment. The analysis is done based on the results of the regional hydrodynamic model simulations forced by atmospheric century reanalysis data, e.g. 20th Century Reanalysis Project (20CR) ensembles, ERA5 and UERRA–HARMONIE. The eight selected historical storms lead either to the highest storm tide extremes for at least one of three locations around the German Bight or to extreme storm surge events during low tide. In general, extreme storm tides could be reproduced, and some individual ensemble members are suitable for the reconstruction of respective storm tides. However, the highest observed water level in the German Bight could not be simulated with any considered forcing. The particular weather situations with corresponding storm tracks are analysed to better understand their different impact on the peak storm tides, their variability and their predictability. Storms with more northerly tracks generally show less variability in wind speed and a better agreement with the observed extreme water levels for the German Bight. The impact of two severe historical storms that peaked at low tide is investigated with shifted tides. For Husum in the eastern German Bight this results in a substantial increase in the peak water levels reaching a historical maximum.
QR Code: Link to publication