Articles | Volume 12, issue 2
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 305–312, 2012

Special issue: The record of marine storminess along European coastlines

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 305–312, 2012

Review article 10 Feb 2012

Review article | 10 Feb 2012

Evolution of marine storminess in the Belgian part of the North Sea

D. Van den Eynde1, R. De Sutter2,3, and P. Haerens2 D. Van den Eynde et al.
  • 1Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium
  • 2International Marine and Dredging Consultants, Antwerp, Belgium
  • 3Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

Abstract. Severe storms have affected European coast lines in the past but knowledge on changes in storminess for the last decades is still sparse. Climate change is assumed to be a main driving factor with the potential to induce changes on the intensity, duration and frequency of powerful marine storms, including a long-term influence on peak wind speeds, surges and waves. It is, therefore, important to investigate whether in the last decades changes in the magnitude of storms, their duration and frequency could be observed. Understanding trends in storminess in the last decades will help to better prepare coastal managers for future events, taking into account potential changes on storm occurrence and magnitude to improve planning of mitigation and adaptation strategies. The purpose of this study was to focus on the evolution of extreme wind conditions, wave height and storm surge levels in the North Sea Region, especially in the Belgian part of the North Sea (BPNS). Based on the analysis performed it is concluded that no clear trend can be observed for the occurrence of significant increasing extreme wind speeds over the BPNS. Furthermore, one can conclude that not enough scientific evidence is available to support scenarios with increased wave height or storminess.