Coastal vulnerability across the Pacific dominated by El Nino/Southern Oscillation

TitleCoastal vulnerability across the Pacific dominated by El Nino/Southern Oscillation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsBarnard P.L, Short A.D, Harley M.D, Splinter K.D, Vitousek S., Turner I.L, Allan J., Banno M., Bryan K.R, Doria A., Hansen J.E, Kato S., Kuriyama Y., Randall-Goodwin E., Ruggiero P., Walker I.J, Heathfield D.K
JournalNature Geoscience
Volume8
Pagination801-+
Date Published2015/10
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number1752-0894
Accession NumberWOS:000363951200022
Keywordsbeach; events; frequency; height; Nino; northern-hemisphere; sea-level; southern-oscillation; variability; wave climate
Abstract

To predict future coastal hazards, it is important to quantify any links between climate drivers and spatial patterns of coastal change. However, most studies of future coastal vulnerability do not account for the dynamic components of coastal water levels during storms, notably wave-driven processes, storm surges and seasonal water level anomalies, although these components can add metres to water levels during extreme events. Here we synthesize multi-decadal, co-located data assimilated between 1979 and 2012 that describe wave climate, local water levels and coastal change for 48 beaches throughout the Pacific Ocean basin. We find that observed coastal erosion across the Pacific varies most closely with El Nino/Southern Oscillation, with a smaller influence from the Southern Annular Mode and the Pacific North American pattern. In the northern and southern Pacific Ocean, regional wave and water level anomalies are significantly correlated to a suite of climate indices, particularly during boreal winter; conditions in the northeast Pacific Ocean are often opposite to those in the western and southern Pacific. We conclude that, if projections for an increasing frequency of extreme El Nino and La Nina events over the twenty-first century are confirmed, then populated regions on opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean basin could be alternately exposed to extreme coastal erosion and flooding, independent of sea-level rise.

DOI10.1038/ngeo2539
Short TitleNat. Geosci.
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