Mapping wave set-up near a complex geometric urban coastline
Abstract. Wave induced set-up is a process that leads to increased water levels in coastal regions. When coupled with storm conditions, wave set-up – or, for brevity, set-up – can significantly increase the risk of flooding or structural damage and therefore is of particular importance when considering coastal management or issues related to the planning of nearshore infrastructures. Here, we investigate the effects of set-up in the coastal region of the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea, close to Tallinn, Estonia, although the results will have wider relevance for many other areas. Due to a lack of continuous wave data we employ modelling to provide input data using a calculation scheme based on a high-resolution (470 m) spectral wave model WAM to replicate spatial patterns of wave properties based on high-quality, instrument-measured wind data from the neighbourhood of the study site. The results indicate that for the specific geometry of coastline under consideration, there is a variation in set-up which is strongly affected by wind direction. The maximum set-up values are up to 70–80 cm in selected locations. This is more than 50% of the all-time maximum water level and thus may serve as a substantial source of marine hazard for several low-lying regions around the city. Wind directions during storms have changed in recent years and, with climate variability potentially increasing, these results will encourage further tests which may be used in a policy setting regarding defences or other structures in and around coastlines. In particular, with urban development now taking place in many coastal regions (including the one within this study) these results have implications for local planners. They may also be incorporated into new storm warning systems.