Future Changes in Gulf of Mexico Hurricane Wave Climatology

Thursday, 21 April 2016: 1:45 PM
Ponce de Leon B (The Condado Hilton Plaza)
James M. Done, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and M. Ge, C. L. Bruyere, G. J. Holland, and J. Pappas

Meeting societal demand for assessments of future changes in Gulf of Mexico hurricane impacts is a challenge that extends well beyond simply improving atmospheric prediction. Loading on offshore structures is a complex function of characteristics of the winds, ocean waves and ocean currents.

Simple empirical relationships between wind, wave and current miss some of the essential physics, particularly for extreme events, thereby resulting in errors in load estimates. Here, two complimentary modeling approaches are used to quantify future changes in wind, wave and currents in hurricane environments.

A set of ten historical Gulf of Mexico hurricanes are simulated using analysis winds to drive ocean waves using the Simulating Waves Nearshore model and ocean currents using the Regional Ocean Modeling System. The set of case studies are simulated again under three future climate scenarios.

Future changes in wind, currents and waves using this controlled approach are compared with future changes obtained using the Tropical Cyclone Risk Model, a statistical and parametric model of tropical cyclone winds provided by Geoscience Australia. A large number of synthetic tropical cyclone wind fields are generated under current and future climate conditions using historical tracks and future tracks from other studies as input. These synthetic wind fields are then used to drive the wave and ocean models.

Integrating these results with engineering design protocols is anticipated to lead to better planning guidelines that will enable improved design of structures and operating procedures, and minimize environmental and safety risks.

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