The record of marine storminess along European coastlines
The record of marine storminess along European coastlines
Editor(s): P. Ciavola and J. A. Jimenez
The main objective of the European-funded MICORE project ( is to develop and demonstrate on-line tools for the reliable prediction of storm impacts on coastlines and to develop and enhance existing civil protection strategies. The magnitude and frequency of storms was analyzed at 9 diverse European sites in order to determine storm trends over a period spanning between 30 and 100 years.

Meteorological and marine data available at national and European level were included in the analysis presented in this volume. Here the aim was to improve the understanding of coastal responses to changes in storminess and only events above a locally defined storm threshold were considered. This overcame the problems associated with the integration and comparison of information from widely dispersed geographical locations in Europe.

The storm duration analysis performed for France (Aquitaine and Mediterranean), Italy (Northern Adriatic), Portugal (West Coast), Spain (Catalonia) and UK (Eastern Irish Sea) did not find any statistically significant change during the studied period. Similarly, no significant trends were observed for the Bulgarian and southern Portugal sites. The Polish site was the exception, showing a slight increase in storminess over the period studied. No clear trends in storm intensity were found for Italy–Northern Adriatic (waves and winds), Portugal–West Coast, and UK – Eastern Irish Sea. Similarly, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain–Atlantic Andalusia (waves) did not detect any statistically significant trends. However, data from the Bulgarian and southern Portuguese coastlines indicated a slightly decreasing storminess trend. In contrast, a slight increase in storm frequency was observed in France–Aquitaine and Mediterranean (from the 1970s till 1990s), Italy–Northern Adriatic (only surges), Poland (significant both for surges and waves) and Spain-Andalusia (significant for wind). Results from the coastal regions in this study therefore support the conclusion that there are no significant trends detected in the magnitude or frequency of storms in Europe during the study period.

The study provided some evidence that storminess variability is much higher than the observed trends at the time-scales used in this work (i.e. more than 3 decades). It was, however, not possible to observe any clear association between storminess changes and changes in the global climate. This does not imply that global climate change consequences will not have an influence on European storminess and on storminess impacts in the future. However, for the existing and available data sets at a European level, those impacts have not been detected in this study.

It is important to note also that although no clear trends in storminess emerge from the present study, this result does not necessarily imply that longer-term trends are absent. The study so far did not considered changes in the occurrence of “clusters” of events, i.e. the occurrence of several medium-energy events over a short time-scale.

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