26 Jan 2021
26 Jan 2021
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Observations of extreme wave runup events on the U.S. Pacific Northwest coast

Chuan Li1, H. Tuba Özkan-Haller1,2, Gabriel García-Medina3, Robert A. Holman2, Peter Ruggiero2, Treena M. Jensen4, David B. Elson4, and William R. Schneider4 Chuan Li et al.
  • 1School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA
  • 2College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA
  • 3Marine Sciences Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Seattle, WA, USA
  • 4National Weather Service, National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, Portland, OR, USA

Abstract. Extreme, tsunami-like wave runup events in the absence of earthquakes or landslides have been attributed to trapped waves over shallow bathymetry and long waves created by atmospheric disturbances. These runup events are associated with inland excursions of hundreds of meters and periods of minutes. While the theory of radiation stress implies that nearshore energy transfer from the carrier waves to the infragravity waves can also lead to very large runup, there have not been observations of runup events induced by this process with magnitudes and periods comparable to the other two mechanisms. This work presents observations of several runup events in the U.S. Pacific Northwest that are comparable to extreme runup events related to trapped waves and atmospheric disturbances. It also discusses possible generation mechanisms and shows that energy transfer from incident waves to bound infragravity waves is a plausible generation mechanism. In addition, a method to predict and forecast extreme runup events with similar characteristics is presented.

Chuan Li et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2020-425', Anonymous Referee #1, 22 Feb 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Chuan Li, 13 May 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on nhess-2020-425', Anonymous Referee #2, 01 Apr 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Chuan Li, 13 May 2021

Chuan Li et al.

Chuan Li et al.


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Short summary
In this work, we examine a set of observed extreme, non-earthquake/landslide related wave runup events. Runup events with similar characteristics have previously been attributed to trapped waves over shallow bathymetry and long waves created by atmospheric disturbances. However, we find that neither mechanisms were likely at work in the observations we examined. We show that instead, these runup events were more likely due to energetic growth of bound infragravity waves.