Estimating present day extreme total water level exceedance probabilities around the Australian coastline

Haigh, Ivan D., Wijeratne, E.M.S., MacPherson, Leigh R., Mason, Matthew S., Pattiaratchi, Charitha B., Crompton, Ryan P., & George, Simon (2012) Estimating present day extreme total water level exceedance probabilities around the Australian coastline. Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems, CRC, Hobart, TAS.

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The occurrence of extreme water level events along low-lying, highly populated and/or developed coastlines can lead to devastating impacts on coastal infrastructure. Therefore it is very important that the probabilities of extreme water levels are accurately evaluated to inform flood and coastal management and for future planning. The aim of this study was to provide estimates of present day extreme total water level exceedance probabilities around the whole coastline of Australia, arising from combinations of mean sea level, astronomical tide and storm surges generated by both extra-tropical and tropical storms, but exclusive of surface gravity waves.

The study has been undertaken in two main stages. In the first stage, a high-resolution (~10 km along the coast) hydrodynamic depth averaged model has been configured for the whole coastline of Australia using the Danish Hydraulics Institute’s Mike21 modelling suite of tools. The model has been forced with astronomical tidal levels, derived from the TPX07.2 global tidal model, and meteorological fields, from the US National Center for Environmental Prediction’s global reanalysis, to generate a 61-year (1949 to 2009) hindcast of water levels. This model output has been validated against measurements from 30 tide gauge sites around Australia with long records. At each of the model grid points located around the coast, time series of annual maxima and the several highest water levels for each year were derived from the multi-decadal water level hindcast and have been fitted to extreme value distributions to estimate exceedance probabilities.

Stage 1 provided a reliable estimate of the present day total water level exceedance probabilities around southern Australia, which is mainly impacted by extra-tropical storms. However, as the meteorological fields used to force the hydrodynamic model only weakly include the effects of tropical cyclones the resultant water levels exceedance probabilities were underestimated around western, northern and north-eastern Australia at higher return periods. Even if the resolution of the meteorological forcing was adequate to represent tropical cyclone-induced surges, multi-decadal periods yielded insufficient instances of tropical cyclones to enable the use of traditional extreme value extrapolation techniques. Therefore, in the second stage of the study, a statistical model of tropical cyclone tracks and central pressures was developed using histroic observations. This model was then used to generate synthetic events that represented 10,000 years of cyclone activity for the Australia region, with characteristics based on the observed tropical cyclones over the last ~40 years. Wind and pressure fields, derived from these synthetic events using analytical profile models, were used to drive the hydrodynamic model to predict the associated storm surge response. A random time period was chosen, during the tropical cyclone season, and astronomical tidal forcing for this period was included to account for non-linear interactions between the tidal and surge components. For each model grid point around the coast, annual maximum total levels for these synthetic events were calculated and these were used to estimate exceedance probabilities. The exceedance probabilities from stages 1 and 2 were then combined to provide a single estimate of present day extreme water level probabilities around the whole coastline of Australia.

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ID Code: 73332
Item Type: Report
Refereed: No
Keywords: storm surge, exceedance probability, water heights
ISBN: 9780987193926
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EARTH SCIENCES (040000) > ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES (040100) > Climatology (excl. Climate Change Processes) (040105)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > MARITIME ENGINEERING (091100) > Ocean Engineering (091103)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Civil Engineering & Built Environment
Current > Institutes > Institute for Future Environments
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems, CRC
Deposited On: 03 Jul 2014 23:16
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2014 06:00

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