This study examines the implications of recent advances in global climate modelling for simulating storm surges. Following the ERA-Interim (0.75° × 0.75°) global climate reanalysis, in 2018 the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts released its successor, the ERA5 (0.25° × 0.25°) reanalysis. Using the Global Tide and Surge Model, we analyse eight historical storm surge events driven by tropical—and extra-tropical cyclones. For these events we extract wind fields from the two reanalysis datasets and compare these against satellite-based wind field observations from the Advanced SCATterometer. The root mean squared errors in tropical cyclone wind speed reduce by 58% in ERA5, compared to ERA-Interim, indicating that the mean sea-level pressure and corresponding strong 10-m winds in tropical cyclones greatly improved from ERA-Interim to ERA5. For four of the eight historical events we validate the modelled storm surge heights with tide gauge observations. For Hurricane Irma, the modelled surge height increases from 0.88 m with ERA-Interim to 2.68 m with ERA5, compared to an observed surge height of 2.64 m. We also examine how future advances in climate modelling can potentially further improve global storm surge modelling by comparing the results for ERA-Interim and ERA5 against the operational Integrated Forecasting System (0.125° × 0.125°). We find that a further increase in model resolution results in a better representation of the wind fields and associated storm surges, especially for small size tropical cyclones. Overall, our results show that recent advances in global climate modelling have the potential to increase the accuracy of early-warning systems and coastal flood hazard assessments at the global scale.
- Climate reanalysis
- ECMWF Integrated Forecasting System
- Global hydrodynamic model
- Storm surges