Modelled storm surge changes in a warmer world: the Last Interglacial

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The Last Interglacial (LIG; ca. 125 ka) is a period of interest for climate research as it is the most recent period of the Earth’s history when the boreal climate was warmer than at present. Previous research, based on models and geological evidence, suggests that the LIG may have featured enhanced patterns of ocean storminess, but this remains hotly debated. Here, we apply state-of-the-art climate and hydrodynamic modeling to simulate changes in extreme sea levels caused by storm surges, under LIG and pre-industrial climate forcings. Significantly higher seasonal LIG sea level extremes emerge for the Gulf of Carpentaria, parts of Indonesia, the Mediterranean Sea and northern Africa, the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the Persian Gulf, Pakistan, northwest India, and islands of the Pacific Ocean and of the Caribbean. Lower LIG sea level extremes emerge for the Baltic and North Seas, the Bay of Bengal, China and Vietnam. Some of these anomalies are clearly associated with anomalies in seasonal sea level pressure minima, and potentially also originate from anomalies in the meridional position and intensity of the predominant wind bands. In a qualitative comparison, LIG sea level extremes seem generally higher than those projected for future warmer climates. These results help to constrain the interpretation of coastal archives of LIG sea level indicators.
Original languageEnglish
JournalClimate of the Past
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2022


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