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CR 19:15-23 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/cr019015

Anthropogenic climate change shown by local wave conditions in the North Sea

Arnt Pfizenmayer*, Hans von Storch

Institute of Coastal Research, GKSS Research Centre, 21502 Geesthacht, Germany

ABSTRACT: In the central North Sea we have observed an increase in the frequency of eastwardly propagating waves in the last 4 decades. To assess the significance of this change, wave statistics for the 20th century were reconstructed with a statistical model. With a linear multivariate technique (redundancy analysis), monthly mean air pressure fields over the North Atlantic and Western Europe were downscaled on the intramonthly frequency of directional wave propagation. When compared against this reference, the recent change appears statistically significant at the 5% level. In order to investigate the reason for this local climatic change, the reconstruction was compared with the downscaled results of control and transient GCM scenarios (ECHAM4-OPYC3) and with the results obtained in a high-resolution time-slice experiment with increased concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols. Both estimates are qualitatively consistent with the changes observed in the last 4 decades. We suggest that the recent increase in eastward propagation is a local manifestation of anthropogenic global climate change.

KEY WORDS: Climate change · Detection · Attribution · Wave climate · Statistical downscaling

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