Articles | Volume 13, issue 3
Research article
04 Mar 2013
Research article |  | 04 Mar 2013

Bayesian hierarchical modelling of North Atlantic windiness

E. Vanem and O. N. Breivik

Abstract. Extreme weather conditions represent serious natural hazards to ship operations and may be the direct cause or contributing factor to maritime accidents. Such severe environmental conditions can be taken into account in ship design and operational windows can be defined that limits hazardous operations to less extreme conditions. Nevertheless, possible changes in the statistics of extreme weather conditions, possibly due to anthropogenic climate change, represent an additional hazard to ship operations that is less straightforward to account for in a consistent way. Obviously, there are large uncertainties as to how future climate change will affect the extreme weather conditions at sea and there is a need for stochastic models that can describe the variability in both space and time at various scales of the environmental conditions. Previously, Bayesian hierarchical space-time models have been developed to describe the variability and complex dependence structures of significant wave height in space and time. These models were found to perform reasonably well and provided some interesting results, in particular, pertaining to long-term trends in the wave climate. In this paper, a similar framework is applied to oceanic windiness and the spatial and temporal variability of the 10-m wind speed over an area in the North Atlantic ocean is investigated. When the results from the model for North Atlantic windiness is compared to the results for significant wave height over the same area, it is interesting to observe that whereas an increasing trend in significant wave height was identified, no statistically significant long-term trend was estimated in windiness. This may indicate that the increase in significant wave height is not due to an increase in locally generated wind waves, but rather to increased swell. This observation is also consistent with studies that have suggested a poleward shift of the main storm tracks.