Articles | Volume 19, issue 1
Research article
 | Highlight paper
16 Jan 2023
Research article | Highlight paper |  | 16 Jan 2023

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

Paolo Scussolini, Job Dullaart, Sanne Muis, Alessio Rovere, Pepijn Bakker, Dim Coumou, Hans Renssen, Philip J. Ward, and Jeroen C. J. H. Aerts


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Understanding future changes in storm surge is key to assessing the sustainability of coastal environment to global warming and sea level rise. Past climate intervals may provide useful insights into how storm surge and sea level extremes may respond to climate forcing conditions. Focusing on the Last Interglacial (LIG, ~127,000 years ago), the study by Scussolini and co-authors applied a novel hydrodynamic modelling framework to simulate changes in sea level extremes caused by storm surges under LIG and pre-industrial climate forcing conditions. They discovered a key role of the meridional position and intensity of predominant wind bands in driving spatial distributions of sea level extremes. Their findings have broad implications for interpretations of LIG sea level from coastal archives.
Short summary
We reconstruct sea level extremes due to storm surges in a past warmer climate. We employ a novel combination of paleoclimate modeling and global ocean hydrodynamic modeling. We find that during the Last Interglacial, about 127 000 years ago, seasonal sea level extremes were indeed significantly different – higher or lower – on long stretches of the global coast. These changes are associated with different patterns of atmospheric storminess linked with meridional shifts in wind bands.