Multidecadal Scale Detection Time for Potentially Increasing Atlantic Storm Surges in a Warming Climate

Benjamin Seiyon Lee, Murali Haran, Klaus Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Storm surges are key drivers of coastal flooding, which generate considerable risks. Strategies to manage these risks can hinge on the ability to (i) project the return periods of extreme storm surges and (ii) detect potential changes in their statistical properties. There are several lines of evidence linking rising global average temperatures and increasingly frequent extreme storm surges. This conclusion is, however, subject to considerable structural uncertainty. This leads to two main questions: What are projections under various plausible statistical models? How long would it take to distinguish among these plausible statistical models? We address these questions by analyzing observed and simulated storm surge data. We find that (1) there is a positive correlation between global mean temperature rise and increasing frequencies of extreme storm surges; (2) there is considerable uncertainty underlying the strength of this relationship; and (3) if the frequency of storm surges is increasing, this increase can be detected within a multidecadal timescale (≈20 years from now).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10,617-10,623
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 28 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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