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Trend analysis of wave direction and associated impacts on the Catalan coast


  • M. Casas-Prat


  • J. Sierra



The effects of climate change are currently a red-hot issue in the scientific community. However, little attention has been paid to the effects of climate change on the wave climate and, in particular, on wave directionality. In this study, we developed a methodology of trend analysis and extrapolation of mean wave climate. We used the parameters of a typical wave rose: frequencies of wave height intervals and directional sectors. The trend over time was estimated by means of linear regression analysis after applying a transformation according to the nature of the (compositional) data. Then, the wave climate was extrapolated up to 2050 assuming the same previously estimated trend and part of the uncertainty was assessed with the bootstrapping technique. Additionally, to get an idea of the magnitude of the consequences of the identified trends, we carried out an impact assessment, in terms of coastal morphodynamics and harbour operability, comparing the present situation with the extrapolation. To assess the impact on coastal morphodynamics, we compared the gradients of long-shore sediment transport to evaluate possible changes in beach retreat/accretion tendency, and to assess harbour operability, we studied the possible impact on harbour agitation in three port case studies. This study was carried out on the Catalan coast (NW Mediterranean Sea) and was based on 40 nodes of 44 years of wave hindcast data. The main impacts on the wave climate were found to be a reduction in the waves coming from the north and northeast and an increase in events coming from the south. This apparently significant change in directionality could result in changes in the prevailing dynamic pattern along more than 70 % of the Catalan coast (e.g. some apparently stable beaches could become erosive) although these results have associated a large uncertainty and are not statistically significant. On the other hand, harbour agitation is expected to increase with statistical significance (by up to 18 % on average) because the studied ports, like most of Catalonia’s ports, are oriented towards the south-southwest. Copyright The Author(s) 2012

Suggested Citation

  • M. Casas-Prat & J. Sierra, 2012. "Trend analysis of wave direction and associated impacts on the Catalan coast," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 115(3), pages 667-691, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:115:y:2012:i:3:p:667-691
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0466-9

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    Cited by:

    1. J. Sierra & M. Casas-Prat, 2014. "Analysis of potential impacts on coastal areas due to changes in wave conditions," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 124(4), pages 861-876, June.

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