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Bromirski, PD, Flick RE, Miller AJ.  2017.  Storm surge along the Pacific coast of North America. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 122:441-457.   10.1002/2016jc012178   AbstractWebsite

Storm surge is an important factor that contributes to coastal flooding and erosion. Storm surge magnitude along eastern North Pacific coasts results primarily from low sea level pressure (SLP). Thus, coastal regions where high surge occurs identify the dominant locations where intense storms make landfall, controlled by storm track across the North Pacific. Here storm surge variability along the Pacific coast of North America is characterized by positive nontide residuals at a network of tide gauge stations from southern California to Alaska. The magnitudes of mean and extreme storm surge generally increase from south to north, with typically high amplitude surge north of Cape Mendocino and lower surge to the south. Correlation of mode 1 nontide principal component (PC1) during winter months (December-February) with anomalous SLP over the northeast Pacific indicates that the dominant storm landfall region is along the Cascadia/British Columbia coast. Although empirical orthogonal function spatial patterns show substantial interannual variability, similar correlation patterns of nontide PC1 over the 1948-1975 and 1983-2014 epochs with anomalous SLP suggest that, when considering decadal-scale time periods, storm surge and associated tracks have generally not changed appreciably since 1948. Nontide PC1 is well correlated with PC1 of both anomalous SLP and modeled wave height near the tide gauge stations, reflecting the interrelationship between storms, surge, and waves. Weaker surge south of Cape Mendocino during the 2015-2016 El Nino compared with 1982-1983 may result from changes in Hadley circulation. Importantly from a coastal impacts perspective, extreme storm surge events are often accompanied by high waves.

Bromirski, PD, Miller AJ, Flick RE, Auad G.  2011.  Dynamical suppression of sea level rise along the Pacific coast of North America: Indications for imminent acceleration. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 116   10.1029/2010jc006759   AbstractWebsite

Long-term changes in global mean sea level (MSL) rise have important practical implications for shoreline and beach erosion, coastal wetlands inundation, storm surge flooding, and coastal development. Altimetry since 1993 indicates that global MSL rise has increased about 50% above the 20th century rise rate, from 2 to 3 mm yr(-1). At the same time, both tide gauge measurements and altimetry indicate virtually no increase along the Pacific coast of North America during the satellite epoch. Here we show that the dynamical steric response of North Pacific eastern boundary ocean circulation to a dramatic change in wind stress curl, tau(xy), which occurred after the mid-1970s regime shift, can account for the suppression of regional sea level rise along this coast since 1980. Alarmingly, mean tau(xy) over the North Pacific recently reached levels not observed since before the mid-1970s regime shift. This change in wind stress patterns may be foreshadowing a Pacific Decadal Oscillation regime shift, causing an associated persistent change in basin-scale tau(xy) that may result in a concomitant resumption of sea level rise along the U.S. West Coast to global or even higher rates.

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.

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   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.