17 Jan 2022
17 Jan 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Climate-induced storminess forces major increases in future storm surge hazard in the South China Sea region

Melissa Wood1, Ivan D. Haigh1, Quan Quan Le2, Hung Nghia Nguyen2, Hoang Ba Tran2, Stephen E. Darby3, Robert Marsh2, Nikolaos Skliris2, Joël J.-M. Hirschi4, Robert J. Nicholls5, and Nadia Bloemendaal6 Melissa Wood et al.
  • 1School of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton, University of Southampton, Waterfront Campus, European Way, Southampton, UK
  • 2Southern Institute of Water Resource Research (SIWRR), 658th Vo Van Kiet Avenue, Ward 1, District 5, Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam
  • 3School of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, UK
  • 4National Oceanography Centre Southampton, University of Southampton, UK
  • 5Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
  • 6Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 1081 HV, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Abstract. It is vital to robustly estimate the risks posed by extreme sea levels, especially in tropical regions where cyclones can generate large storm surges and observations are too limited in time and space to deliver reliable analyses. To address this limitation for the South China Sea region, we force a hydrodynamic model with a new synthetic database representing 10,000 years of past/present and future tropical cyclone activity, to investigate climate change impacts on extreme sea levels forced by storm surges (± tides). We show that, as stronger and more numerous tropical cyclones likely pass through this region over the next 30 years, both the spatial extent and severity of storm surge hazard increases. While extreme storm surge events in this location become generally a more frequent occurrence in the future, larger storm surges around Vietnam and China coastlines are projected to regionally amplify this hazard. This threatens low-lying, densely-populated areas such as the Red and Mekong River deltas, while sections of the Cambodian and Thai coastline face previously unseen storm surge hazards. These future hazards strongly signal that coastal flood management and adaptation in these areas should be reviewed for their resilience against future extreme sea levels.

Melissa Wood 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-2021-397', Anonymous Referee #1, 24 Feb 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Melissa Wood, 13 May 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on nhess-2021-397', Anonymous Referee #2, 12 Mar 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Melissa Wood, 15 May 2022

Melissa Wood et al.

Melissa Wood et al.


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Short summary
We used a novel database of simulated tropical cyclone tracks to explore whether typhoon-induced storm surges present a future flood risk to low lying coastal communities around the South China Sea. We found that future climate change is likely to change tropical cyclone behaviour to an extent that this increases the severity and frequency of storm surges to Vietnam, southern China and Thailand. Consequently, coastal flood defences need to be reviewed for resilience against this future hazard.