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Modelling wave-current interactions off the east coast of Scotland

Sabatino, Alessandro D. and McCaig, Chris and O'Hara Murray, Rory B. and Heath, Michael R. (2016) Modelling wave-current interactions off the east coast of Scotland. Ocean Science, 12 (4). pp. 875-897. ISSN 1812-0792

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Abstract

Densely populated coastal areas of the North Sea are particularly vulnerable to severe wave conditions, which overtop or damage sea-defences leading to dangerous flooding. Around the shallow southern North Sea, where the coastal margin is low-lying and population density is high, oceanographic modelling has helped to develop forecasting systems to predict flood risk. However coastal areas of the deeper northern North Sea are also subject to regular storm damage but there has been little or no effort to develop coastal wave models for these waters. Here we present a high spatial resolution model of northeast Scottish coastal waters, simulating waves and the effect of tidal currents on wave propagation, driven by global ocean tides, far-field wave conditions, and local air pressure and wind stress. We show that the wave- current interactions and wave-wave interactions are particularly important for simulating the wave conditions close to the coast at various locations. The model can simulate the extreme conditions experienced when high (spring) tides are combined with sea-level surges and large Atlantic swell. Such a combination of extremes represents a high risk for damaging conditions along the Scottish coast.