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Climate Change Impacts on Wind Waves Generated by Major Tropical Cyclones off the Coast of New Jersey, USA


New Jersey has the second most densely populated barrier islands in the U.S. These islands are protected mainly by beach-dune systems against high sea levels. These natural and nature-based flood protection systems are vulnerable to erosion due to  storm surge and extreme wind waves during storms, as best exemplified by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Climate change is expected to impact the mean sea levels and the intensity and frequency of storms, which, in turn, would impact the climatology of extreme waves offshore and nearshore.

This study quantified future changes to extreme wave heights induced by intense hurricanes off the Atlantic coast of New Jersey. This was done by using a high-resolution ADCIRC+SWAN model to simulate extreme waves for large numbers of synthetic hurricanes. Changes from the historical period of 1980-2000 to the future period of 2080-2100 were quantified under a high greenhouse gas emission scenario. Findings show a statistical increase in the future extreme wave heights. Due to the combined effects of hurricane climatology change and a sea level rise of 1.2m, the increase in the extreme wave heights would be about 15% in back-bays and open shallow waters of the study area and up to 10% in deeper coastal waters (Figures 6 and 7 in the paper. Data can be obtained from here). Sea level rise is found to be a significant contributor to the projected increases in the present-day surf zone.

Please take a look at the published research article

Trends in the Climatology of Winter Wind Wave Heights in a Back-Barrier Bay in Western North Atlantic Ocean


​Climatology of wind waves in back-bay environments can be substantially different from their neighboring open coasts, given that back-bays are sheltered from ocean swells. Understanding the long-term wave climate variability and change in back-bay environments have a wide range of implications, given that waves are an important driver of water circulation and mixing and morphological changes. In this study we investigated climatology of wind waves in Jamaica Bay, a saline to brackish back-bay estuary located in the New York City region. The ecological and recreational resources provided by Jamaica Bay contribute significantly to the local economy, supporting tourism, fishing, and other industries.

We used a validated high-resolution circulation and wave model to generate a 30-year hindcast of winter waves for the period of 1990-2019. The results showed that the average winter mean and extreme wave heights in the bay are, respectively, 0.12 and 0.5 m. We found that the winter mean and extreme wave heights have increased up to 1 and 3 mm/year, respectively, during the simulated 30-year period. The increasing trends in wave heights could accelerate degradation (through edge erosion) of salt marsh habitats, which have been disappearing at an alarming rate for the past few decades.


The published paper can be found here:

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