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Mean Sea Level Variability and Influence of the North Atlantic Oscillation on Long-Term Trends in the German Bight
Research Institute for Water and Environment, University of Siegen, Paul-Bonatz-Str. 9-11, Siegen 57076, Germany
Federal Institute of Hydrology, Am Mainzer Tor 1, Koblenz 56068, Germany
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 January 2012; in revised form: 30 January 2012 / Accepted: 13 February 2012 / Published: 24 February 2012
Abstract: Changes in the seasonal cycle of mean sea level (MSL) may affect the heights of storm surges and thereby flood risk in coastal areas. This study investigates the intra- and inter-annual variability of monthly MSL and its link to the North Atlantic Oscillation using records from 13 tide gauges located in the German Bight. The amplitudes of the seasonal MSL cycle are not regionally uniform and vary between 20 and 29 cm. Generally, the amplitudes are smaller at the southwestern stations, increasing as one travels to the northeastern part. The amplitudes, as well as the phase of the seasonal cycle, are characterized by a large inter-annual and inter-decadal variability, but no long-term trend could be detected. Nevertheless, in the last two decades annual maximum peaks more frequently occurred in January and February, whereas beforehand an accumulation was detected for the November and December period. These changes in phase in the various sea level time series are consistent with a shift in the annual cycle, which is, however, not significant. The changes are associated with strongly increasing trends in monthly MSL of the winter season (J–M), which are considerably higher compared to the remaining seasons. For the same season, the MSL and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) indices show strong similarities, resulting in statistically significant correlations (r ~ 0.7). Hence, these changes are linked with changing pressure conditions over the North Atlantic, which lead to a strong phase of positive values in the NAO index between the 1960’s and 1990’s.
Keywords: mean sea level variability; flood risk; seasonality; North Sea; German Bight; North Atlantic Oscillation
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Dangendorf, S.; Wahl, T.; Hein, H.; Jensen, J.; Mai, S.; Mudersbach, C. Mean Sea Level Variability and Influence of the North Atlantic Oscillation on Long-Term Trends in the German Bight. Water 2012, 4, 170-195.
Dangendorf S, Wahl T, Hein H, Jensen J, Mai S, Mudersbach C. Mean Sea Level Variability and Influence of the North Atlantic Oscillation on Long-Term Trends in the German Bight. Water. 2012; 4(1):170-195.
Dangendorf, Sönke; Wahl, Thomas; Hein, Hartmut; Jensen, Jürgen; Mai, Stephan; Mudersbach, Christoph. 2012. "Mean Sea Level Variability and Influence of the North Atlantic Oscillation on Long-Term Trends in the German Bight." Water 4, no. 1: 170-195.