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Ocean Science An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2019-25
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/os-2019-25
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 16 Apr 2019

Research article | 16 Apr 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Ocean Science (OS).

Variability of distributions of wave set-up heights along a shoreline with complicated geometry

Tarmo Soomere1,2 and Katri Pindsoo1 Tarmo Soomere and Katri Pindsoo
  • 1Laboratory of Wave Engineering, Department of Cybernetics, School of Science, Tallinn University of Technology, Akadeemia tee 21, Tallinn, 12618, Estonia
  • 2Estonian Academy of Sciences, Kohtu 6, Tallinn, 10130, Estonia

Abstract. The phenomenon of wave set-up may substantially contribute to the formation of devastating coastal flooding in certain coastal areas. We study the appearance and properties of empirical probability distributions of the occurrence of different set-up heights in about 80 km long section of coastline near Tallinn in the Gulf of Finland, the eastern Baltic Sea. The study area is often attacked by high waves propagating from various directions and the approach angle of waves varies largely along the shore. The distribution in question is approximated by an exponential distribution with a quadratic polynomial as the exponent. Even though different segments of the study area host substantially different wave regimes, the leading term of this polynomial is usually small (between −0.005 and 0.005) and varies insignificantly along the study area. Consequently, the distribution of wave set-up heights substantially deviates from a Rayleigh or Weibull distribution (that usually reflect the distribution of different wave heights). In about 3/4 of occasions it is fairly well approximated by a standard exponential distribution. In about 25 % of coastal segments it matches a Wald (inverse Gaussian) distribution. This property signals that very high extreme set-up events may in some locations occur substantially more frequently than it could be expected from the probability of occurrence of severe seas.

Tarmo Soomere and Katri Pindsoo
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Tarmo Soomere and Katri Pindsoo
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Latest update: 18 Jul 2019
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Short summary
Extreme water levels are often created by several drivers with different properties. For example, the contribution from the water volume of the Baltic Sea follows a Gaussian distribution but storm surges represent a Poisson process. We show that wave set-up heights (the third major component of high water levels) frequently match an inverse Gaussian distribution. Therefore, high set-up events may occur more frequently than it could be expected from the probability of occurrence of severe seas.
Extreme water levels are often created by several drivers with different properties. For...
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