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Assessing climate change and variability in the coastal zone: overview of the Pacific storms climatology products

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Monday, 24 January 2011
Assessing climate change and variability in the coastal zone: overview of the Pacific storms climatology products
Washington State Convention Center
David H. Levinson, NOAA/NESDIS/NCDC, Asheville, NC ; and M. C. Kruk and J. Marra

Understanding the long-term variability and trends in coastal climate has grown in public awareness given the potentially severe impacts related to sea level rise coupled with changes in “storminess”, and whether there have been observed changes in storm frequency, intensity and duration. Previous research and operational monitoring products related to coastal storms have focused on whether monthly, seasonal or annual averages have varied over time, and whether there is a discernible trend in basic meteorological parameters measured during the occurrence of storms (i.e. winds, atmospheric pressure, precipitation, etc.). In order to better address any observed trends in coastal impacts related to climate change, the Pacific Storms Climatology Products (PSCP) Program has been developing analyses of heavy rains, strong winds, and high seas to better identify the observed long-term variability and trends related to these climate impact parameters.

This paper will overview the development and application of a suite of climate indices for assessing climate change and variability across coastal regions of the Pacific basin, including Hawai'i, Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest. Specific focus is on those observed changes and trends in the most extreme storm events using a suite of climate indices describing the impact of storms on observations of high seas, heavy rains and strong winds, and how these indices can aid in understanding variations and trends in extreme events over time. Examples related to extreme rainfall events will be highlighted, and specifically how climate indices can be used to assess both variability and change using daily surface data.