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Toomey, DR, Allen RM, Barclay AH, Bell SW, Bromirski PD, Carlson RL, Chen XW, Collins JA, Dziak RP, Evers B, Forsyth DW, Gerstoft P, Hooft EEE, Livelybrooks D, Lodewyk JA, Luther DS, McGuire JJ, Schwartz SY, Tolstoy M, Trehu AM, Weirathmueller M, Wilcock WSD.  2014.  The Cascadia Initiative: A sea change in seismological studies of subduction zones. Oceanography. 27:138-150. AbstractWebsite

Increasing public awareness that the Cascadia subduction zone in the Pacific Northwest is capable of great earthquakes (magnitude 9 and greater) motivates the Cascadia Initiative, an ambitious onshore/offshore seismic and geodetic experiment that takes advantage of an amphibious array to study questions ranging from megathrust earthquakes, to volcanic arc structure, to the formation, deformation and hydration of the Juan De Fuca and Gorda Plates. Here, we provide an overview of the Cascadia Initiative, including its primary science objectives, its experimental design and implementation, and a preview of how the resulting data are being used by a diverse and growing scientific community. The Cascadia Initiative also exemplifies how new technology and community-based experiments are opening up frontiers for marine science. The new technology shielded ocean bottom seismometers is allowing more routine investigation of the source zone of megathrust earthquakes, which almost exclusively lies offshore and in shallow water. The Cascadia Initiative offers opportunities and accompanying challenges to a rapidly expanding community of those who use ocean bottom seismic data.

Cayan, DR, Bromirski PD, Hayhoe K, Tyree M, Dettinger MD, Flick RE.  2008.  Climate change projections of sea level extremes along the California coast. Climatic Change. 87:S57-S73.   10.1007/s10584-007-9376-7   AbstractWebsite

California's coastal observations and global model projections indicate that California's open coast and estuaries will experience rising sea levels over the next century. During the last several decades, the upward historical trends, quantified from a small set of California tide gages, have been approximately 20 cm/century, quite similar to that estimated for global mean sea level. In the next several decades, warming produced by climate model simulations indicates that sea level rise (SLR) could substantially exceed the rate experienced during modem human development along the California coast and estuaries. A range of future SLR is estimated from a set of climate simulations governed by lower (B1), middle-upper (A2), and higher (A1fi) GHG emission scenarios. Projecting SLR from the ocean warming in GCMs, observational evidence of SLR, and separate calculations using a simple climate model yields a range of potential sea level increases, from 11 to 72 cm, by the 2070-2099 period. The combination of predicted astronomical tides with projected weather forcing, El Nino related variability, and secular SLR, gives a series of hourly sea level projections for 2005-2100. Gradual sea level rise progressively worsens the impacts of high tides, surge and waves resulting from storms, and also freshwater floods from Sierra and coastal mountain catchments. The occurrence of extreme sea levels is pronounced when these factors coincide. The frequency and magnitude of extreme events, relative to current levels, follows a sharply escalating pattern as the magnitude of future sea level rise increases.

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Diez, A, Bromirski PD, Gerstoft P, Stephen RA, Anthony RE, Aster RC, Cai C, Nyblade A, Wiens DA.  2016.  Ice shelf structure derived from dispersion curve analysis of ambient seismic noise, Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Geophysical Journal International. 205:785-795.   10.1093/gji/ggw036   AbstractWebsite

An L-configured, three-component short period seismic array was deployed on the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica during November 2014. Polarization analysis of ambient noise data from these stations shows linearly polarized waves for frequency bands between 0.2 and 2 Hz. A spectral peak at about 1.6 Hz is interpreted as the resonance frequency of the water column and is used to estimate the water layer thickness below the ice shelf. The frequency band from 4 to 18 Hz is dominated by Rayleigh and Love waves propagating from the north that, based on daily temporal variations, we conclude were generated by field camp activity. Frequency-slowness plots were calculated using beamforming. Resulting Love and Rayleigh wave dispersion curves were inverted for the shear wave velocity profile within the firn and ice to similar to 150 m depth. The derived density profile allows estimation of the pore close-off depth and the firn-air content thickness. Separate inversions of Rayleigh and Love wave dispersion curves give different shear wave velocity profiles within the firn. We attribute this difference to an effective anisotropy due to fine layering. The layered structure of firn, ice, water and the seafloor results in a characteristic dispersion curve below 7 Hz. Forward modelling the observed Rayleigh wave dispersion curves using representative firn, ice, water and sediment structures indicates that Rayleigh waves are observed when wavelengths are long enough to span the distance from the ice shelf surface to the seafloor. The forward modelling shows that analysis of seismic data from an ice shelf provides the possibility of resolving ice shelf thickness, water column thickness and the physical properties of the ice shelf and underlying seafloor using passive-source seismic data.

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Chen, Z, Gerstoft P, Bromirski PD.  2016.  Microseism source direction from noise cross-correlation. Geophysical Journal International. 205:810-818.   10.1093/gji/ggw055   AbstractWebsite

Inhomogeneous noise sources surrounding stations produce asymmetric amplitudes in cross-correlation functions that yield preferential source directions. Here we show that preprocessing biases the dominant source direction estimate towards the source producing long-duration signals by down-weighting high-amplitude signals. Tests with both synthetic data and observations show that conventional preprocessing, where only earthquakes and local transients (e.g. trawling, fish impacts) are removed, is more sensitive to coherent energy, while one-bit preprocessing and running-absolute-mean preprocessing are more influenced by signal duration. Comparisons between different preprocessing methods are made on data from the Cascadia Initiative ocean bottom seismometer array, where we find that the total energy arriving from pelagic and coastal areas is similar. Moreover, pelagic-generated signals tend to be weaker but have longer duration, in contrast to coastal-generated signals that tend to be stronger but have shorter duration.

Graham, NE, Cayan DR, Bromirski PD, Flick RE.  2013.  Multi-model projections of twenty-first century North Pacific winter wave climate under the IPCC A2 scenario. Climate Dynamics. 40:1335-1360.   10.1007/s00382-012-1435-8   AbstractWebsite

A dynamical wave model implemented over the North Pacific Ocean was forced with winds from three coupled global climate models (CGCMs) run under a medium-to-high scenario for greenhouse gas emissions through the twenty-first century. The results are analyzed with respect to changes in upper quantiles of significant wave height (90th and 99th percentile H-S) during boreal winter. The three CGCMs produce surprisingly similar patterns of change in winter wave climate during the century, with waves becoming 10-15 % smaller over the lower mid-latitudes of the North Pacific, particularly in the central and western ocean. These decreases are closely associated with decreasing windspeeds along the southern flank of the main core of the westerlies. At higher latitudes, 99th percentile wave heights generally increase, though the patterns of change are less uniform than at lower latitudes. The increased wave heights at high latitudes appear to be due a variety of wind-related factors including both increased windspeeds and changes in the structure of the wind field, these varying from model to model. For one of the CGCMs, a commonly used statistical approach for estimating seasonal quantiles of H-S on the basis of seasonal mean sea level pressure (SLP) is used to develop a regression model from 60 years of twentieth century data as a training set, and then applied using twenty-first century SLP data. The statistical model reproduces the general pattern of decreasing twenty-first century wave heights south of similar to 40 N, but underestimates the magnitude of the changes by similar to 50-70 %, reflecting relatively weak coupling between sea level pressure and wave heights in the CGCM data and loss of variability in the statistically projected wave heights.

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Chaput, J, Aster RC, McGrath D, Baker M, Anthony RE, Gerstoft P, Bromirski P, Nyblade A, Stephen RA, Wiens DA, Das SB, Stevens LA.  2018.  Near-surface environmentally forced changes in the Ross Ice Shelf observed with ambient seismic noise. Geophysical Research Letters. 45:11187-11196.   10.1029/2018gl079665   AbstractWebsite

Continuous seismic observations across the Ross Ice Shelf reveal ubiquitous ambient resonances at frequencies >5 Hz. These firn-trapped surface wave signals arise through wind and snow bedform interactions coupled with very low velocity structures. Progressive and long-term spectral changes are associated with surface snow redistribution by wind and with a January 2016 regional melt event. Modeling demonstrates high spectral sensitivity to near-surface (top several meters) elastic parameters. We propose that spectral peak changes arise from surface snow redistribution in wind events and to velocity drops reflecting snow lattice weakening near 0 degrees C for the melt event. Percolation-related refrozen layers and layer thinning may also contribute to long-term spectral changes after the melt event. Single-station observations are inverted for elastic structure for multiple stations across the ice shelf. High-frequency ambient noise seismology presents opportunities for continuous assessment of near-surface ice shelf or other firn environments. Plain Language Summary Ice shelves are the floating buttresses of large glaciers that extend over the oceans and play a key role in restraining inland glaciers as they flow to the sea. Deploying sensitive seismographs across Earth's largest ice shelf (the Ross Ice Shelf) for 2 years, we discovered that the shelf nearly continuously sings at frequencies of five or more cycles per second, excited by local and regional winds blowing across its snow dune-like topography. We find that the frequencies and other features of this singing change, both as storms alter the snow dunes and during a (January 2016) warming event that resulted in melting in the ice shelf's near surface. These observations demonstrate that seismological monitoring can be used to continually monitor the near-surface conditions of an ice shelf and other icy bodies to depths of several meters.

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Chen, Z, Bromirski PD, Gerstoft P, Stephen RA, Wiens DA, Aster RC, Nyblade AA.  2018.  Ocean-excited plate waves in the Ross and Pine Island Glacier ice shelves. Journal of Glaciology. 64:730-744.   10.1017/jog.2018.66   AbstractWebsite

Ice shelves play an important role in buttressing land ice from reaching the sea, thus restraining the rate of grounded ice loss. Long-period gravity-wave impacts excite vibrations in ice shelves that can expand pre-existing fractures and trigger iceberg calving. To investigate the spatial amplitude variability and propagation characteristics of these vibrations, a 34-station broadband seismic array was deployed on the Ross Ice Shelf (RIS) from November 2014 to November 2016. Two types of ice-shelf plate waves were identified with beamforming: flexural-gravity waves and extensional Lamb waves. Below 20 mHz, flexural-gravity waves dominate coherent signals across the array and propagate landward from the ice front at close to shallow-water gravity-wave speeds (similar to 70 m s(-1)). In the 20-100 mHz band, extensional Lamb waves dominate and propagate at phase speeds similar to 3 km s(-1). Flexural-gravity and extensional Lamb waves were also observed by a 5-station broadband seismic array deployed on the Pine Island Glacier (PIG) ice shelf from January 2012 to December 2013, with flexural wave energy, also detected at the PIG in the 20-100 mHz band. Considering the ubiquitous presence of storm activity in the Southern Ocean and the similar observations at both the RIS and the PIG ice shelves, it is likely that most, if not all, West Antarctic ice shelves are subjected to similar gravity-wave excitation.

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Costa-Cabral, M, Rath JS, Mills WB, Roy SB, Bromirski PD, Milesi C.  2016.  Projecting and forecasting winter precipitation extremes and meteorological drought in California using the North Pacific high sea level pressure anomaly. Journal of Climate. 29:5009-5026.   10.1175/jcli-d-15-0525.1   AbstractWebsite

Large-scale climatic indices have been used as predictors of precipitation totals and extremes in many studies and are used operationally in weather forecasts to circumvent the difficulty in obtaining robust dynamical simulations of precipitation. The authors show that the sea level pressure North Pacific high (NPH) wintertime anomaly, a component of the Northern Oscillation index (NOI), provides a superior covariate of interannual precipitation variability in Northern California, including seasonal precipitation totals, drought, and extreme precipitation intensity, compared to traditional ENSO indices such as the Southern Oscillation index (SOI), the multivariate ENSO index (MEI), NiNo-3.4, and others. Furthermore, the authors show that the NPH anomaly more closely reflects the influence of Pacific basin conditions over California in general, over groups of stations used to characterize statewide precipitation in the Sierra Nevada range, and over the southern San Francisco Bay region (NASA Ames Research Center). This paper uses the term prediction to refer to the estimation of precipitation (the predictand) from a climate covariate (the predictor), such as a climate index, or atmospheric moisture. In this sense, predictor and predictand are simultaneous in time. Statistical models employed show the effectiveness of the NPH winter anomaly as a predictor of total winter precipitation and daily precipitation extremes at the Moffett Field station. NPH projected by global climate models is also used in conjunction with atmospheric humidity [atmospheric specific humidity (HUS) at the 850-hPa level] to obtain projections of mean and extreme precipitation. The authors show that future development of accurate forecasts of NPH anomalies issued several months in advance is important for forecasting total winter precipitation and is expected to directly benefit water resource management in California. Therefore, the authors suggest that investigating the lead-time predictability of NPH anomalies is an important direction for future research.

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Bromirski, PD, Flick RE, Cayan DR.  2003.  Storminess variability along the California coast: 1858-2000. Journal of Climate. 16:982-993.   10.1175/1520-0442(2003)016<0982:svatcc>2.0.co;2   AbstractWebsite

The longest available hourly tide gauge record along the West Coast (U. S.) at San Francisco yields meteorologically forced nontide residuals (NTR), providing an estimate of the variation in "storminess'' from 1858 to 2000. Mean monthly positive NTR (associated with low sea level pressure) show no substantial change along the central California coast since 1858 or over the last 50 years. However, in contrast, the highest 2% of extreme winter NTR levels exhibit a significant increasing trend since about 1950. Extreme winter NTR also show pronounced quasi-periodic decadal-scale variability that is relatively consistent over the last 140 years. Atmospheric sea level pressure anomalies (associated with years having high winter NTR) take the form of a distinct, large-scale atmospheric circulation pattern, with intense storminess associated with a broad, southeasterly displaced, deep Aleutian low that directs storm tracks toward the California coast.

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Bromirski, PD, Chen Z, Stephen RA, Gerstoft P, Arcas D, Diez A, Aster RC, Wiens DA, Nyblade A.  2017.  Tsunami and infragravity waves impacting Antarctic ice shelves. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 122:5786-5801.   10.1002/2017jc012913   AbstractWebsite

The responses of the Ross Ice Shelf (RIS) to the 16 September 2015 8.3 (M-w) Chilean earthquake tsunami (>75 s period) and to oceanic infragravity (IG) waves (50-300 s period) were recorded by a broadband seismic array deployed on the RIS from November 2014 to November 2016. Here we show that tsunami and IG-generated signals within the RIS propagate at gravity wave speeds (similar to 70 m/s) as water-ice coupled flexural-gravity waves. IG band signals show measureable attenuation away from the shelf front. The response of the RIS to Chilean tsunami arrivals is compared with modeled tsunami forcing to assess ice shelf flexural-gravity wave excitation by very long period (VLP; >300 s) gravity waves. Displacements across the RIS are affected by gravity wave incident direction, bathymetry under and north of the shelf, and water layer and ice shelf thicknesses. Horizontal displacements are typically about 10 times larger than vertical displacements, producing dynamical extensional motions that may facilitate expansion of existing fractures. VLP excitation is continuously observed throughout the year, with horizontal displacements highest during the austral winter with amplitudes exceeding 20 cm. Because VLP flexural-gravity waves exhibit no discernable attenuation, this energy must propagate to the grounding zone. Both IG and VLP band flexural-gravity waves excite mechanical perturbations of the RIS that likely promote tabular iceberg calving, consequently affecting ice shelf evolution. Understanding these ocean-excited mechanical interactions is important to determine their effect on ice shelf stability to reduce uncertainty in the magnitude and rate of global sea level rise. Plain Language Summary A major source of the uncertainty in the magnitude and rate of global sea level rise is the contribution from Antarctica. Ice shelves buttress land ice, restraining land ice from reaching the sea. We present the analysis of seismic data collected with a broadband seismic array deployed on the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. The characteristics of ocean gravity-wave-induced vibrations, that may expand existing fractures in the ice shelf and/or trigger iceberg calving or ice shelf collapse events, are described. The mechanical dynamic strains induced can potentially affect ice shelf integrity, and ultimately reduce or remove buttressing restraints, accelerating sea level rise.

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Bromirski, PD, Cayan DR.  2015.  Wave power variability and trends across the North Atlantic influenced by decadal climate patterns. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 120:3419-3443.   10.1002/2014jc010440   AbstractWebsite

Climate variations influence North Atlantic winter storm intensity and resultant variations in wave energy levels. A 60 year hindcast allows investigation of the influence of decadal climate variability on long-term trends of North Atlantic wave power, P-W, spanning the 1948-2008 epoch. P-W variations over much of the eastern North Atlantic are strongly influenced by the fluctuating North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) atmospheric circulation pattern, consistent with previous studies of significant wave height, Hs. Wave activity in the western Atlantic also responds to fluctuations in Pacific climate modes, including the Pacific North American (PNA) pattern and the El Nino/Southern Oscillation. The magnitude of upward long-term trends during winter over the northeast Atlantic is strongly influenced by heightened storm activity under the extreme positive phase of winter NAO in the early 1990s. In contrast, P-W along the United States East Coast shows no increasing trend, with wave activity there most closely associated with the PNA. Strong wave power events exhibit significant upward trends along the Atlantic coasts of Iceland and Europe during winter months. Importantly, in opposition to the long-term increase of P-W, a recent general decrease in P-W across the North Atlantic from 2000 to 2008 occurred. The 2000-2008 decrease was associated with a general shift of winter NAO to its negative phase, underscoring the control exerted by fluctuating North Atlantic atmospheric circulation on P-W trends.

Bromirski, PD, Cayan DR, Helly J, Wittmann P.  2013.  Wave power variability and trends across the North Pacific. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 118:6329-6348.   10.1002/2013jc009189   AbstractWebsite

Multiyear climate variations influence North Pacific storm intensity and resultant variations in wave energy levels. The timing of these decadal fluctuations and strong El Nino's have had a strong influence on long-term trends. Here we investigate variations in the North Pacific wave power, P-W, determined from WAVEWATCH III (WW3) wave model significant wave height, Hs, and peak period data forced by NRA-1 winds spanning the 1948-2008 epoch. Over the entire hindcast, upward trends in Hs and P-W, especially in winter, are observed over much of the North Pacific, strongly influenced by an apparent storm intensification after the mid-1970s regime shift. Heightened P-W is concentrated in particular regions of the basin, and is associated with increased wave activity during the warm phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Wave power events, P-E, defined as episodes when Hs exceeded the 90th percentile threshold for at least 12 h, exhibit significant upward trends along much of the U.S. Pacific coast during winter months. Importantly, the hindcast exhibits a recent decrease in P-W across much of the North Pacific, in contrast to the long-term increase of P-W and Hs. This recent decrease is associated with the prevalent PDO cool phase that developed after the late 1990s. Variability and intensification of coastal P-W and P-E have important practical implications for shoreline and beach erosion, coastal wetlands inundation, storm-surge flooding, and coastal planning. These considerations will become increasingly important as sea level rises.

Bromirski, PD, Cayan DR, Flick RE.  2005.  Wave spectral energy variability in the northeast Pacific. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 110   10.1029/2004jc002398   AbstractWebsite

The dominant characteristics of wave energy variability in the eastern North Pacific are described from NOAA National Data Buoy Center ( NDBC) buoy data collected from 1981 to 2003. Ten buoys at distributed locations were selected for comparison based on record duration and data continuity. Long- period ( LP) [ T > 12] s, intermediate- period [ 6 <= T <= 12] s, and short- period [ T < 6] s wave spectral energy components are considered separately. Empirical orthogonal function ( EOF) analyses of monthly wave energy anomalies reveal that all three wave energy components exhibit similar patterns of spatial variability. The dominant mode represents coherent heightened ( or diminished) wave energy along the West Coast from Alaska to southern California, as indicated by composites of the 700 hPa height field. The second EOF mode reveals a distinct El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-associated spatial distribution of wave energy, which occurs when the North Pacific storm track is extended unusually far south or has receded to the north. Monthly means and principal components (PCs) of wave energy levels indicate that the 1997 - 1998 El Nino- winter had the highest basin- wide wave energy within this record, substantially higher than the 1982 - 1983 El Nino. An increasing trend in the dominant PC of LP wave energy suggests that storminess has increased in the northeast Pacific since 1980. This trend is emphasized at central eastern North Pacific locations. Patterns of storminess variability are consistent with increasing activity in the central North Pacific as well as the tendency for more extreme waves in the south during El Nino episodes and in the north during La Nina.