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Title: Predictable Changes in Extreme Sea Levels and Coastal Flood Risk Due To Long‐Term Tidal Cycles

We demonstrate that long‐term tidally induced changes in extreme sea levels affect estimates of major flood hazard in a predictable way. Long‐term variations in tides due to the 4.4 and 18.6‐year cycles influence extreme sea levels at 380 global tide gauges out of a total of 581 analyzed. Results show coherent regions where the amplitudes of the modulations are particularly relevant in the 100‐year return sea level, reaching more than 20 cm in some regions (western Europe, north Australia, and Singapore). We identify locations that are currently in a positive phase of the modulation and therefore at a higher risk of flooding, as well as when (year) the next peak of the long‐term tidal modulations is expected to occur. The timing of the peak of the modulation is spatially coherent and influenced by the relative importance of each cycle (4.4 or 18.6‐year) over the total amplitude. An evaluation of four locations suggests that the potentially flooded area in a 100‐year event can vary up to ∼45% (in Boston) as a result of the long‐term tidal cycles; however, the flooded area varies due to local topography and tidal characteristics (6%–13%). We conclude that tidally modulated changes in extreme sea levels can alter the potentially inundated area in a 100‐year event and that the traditional, fixed 100‐year floodplain is inadequate for describing coastal flood risk, even without considering sea‐level rise.

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Award ID(s):
1854896 1854773 1855037 2013280
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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