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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2017-438
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 12 Jan 2018

Research article | 12 Jan 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

Combining probability distributions of sea level variations and wave run-up to evaluate coastal flooding risks

Ulpu Leijala, Jan-Victor Björkqvist, Milla M. Johansson, Havu Pellikka, Lauri Laakso, and Kimmo K. Kahma Ulpu Leijala et al.
  • Finnish Meteorological Institute, P.O. Box 503, FI-00101, Helsinki, Finland

Abstract. Tools for estimating probabilities of flooding hazards caused by the simultaneous effect of sea level and waves are needed for the secure planning of densely populated coastal areas that are strongly vulnerable to climate change. In this paper we present a method for combining location-specific probability distributions of three different components: (1) long-term mean sea level change, (2) short-term sea level variations, and (3) wind-generated waves. We apply the method in two locations in the Helsinki Archipelago to obtain run-up level estimates representing the joint effect of the still water level and the wave run-up. These estimates for the present, 2050 and 2100 are based on field measurements and mean sea level scenarios. In the case of our study locations, the significant locational variability of the wave conditions leads to a difference in the safe building levels of up to one meter. The rising mean sea level in the Gulf of Finland and the uncertainty related to the associated scenarios contribute significantly to the run-up levels for the year 2100. We also present a sensitivity test of the method and discuss its applicability to other coastal regions. Our approach allows for the determining of different building levels based on the acceptable risks for various infrastructure, thus reducing building costs while maintaining necessary safety margins.

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Short summary
This paper introduces a probabilistic method to evaluate coastal flooding risks of the joint effect of sea level variations and wind waves. The method allows the determination of safe building levels for different infrastructure on the coast. Our results indicate that locational variability of the wave conditions leads to a significant difference in the safe building levels. Additionally, mean sea level rise in the study location contributes to the estimates especially in the year 2100.
This paper introduces a probabilistic method to evaluate coastal flooding risks of the joint...
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