Linking North Atlantic Teleconnections to Latitudinal Variability of Wave Climate Along the North American Atlantic Coast

Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Christian Provancha, University of Florida, Geological Sciences, Ft Walton Beach, FL, United States, Peter N Adams, University of Florida, Department of Geological Sciences, Ft Walton Beach, FL, United States, Christie Hegermiller, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA, United States and Curt Daron Storlazzi, USGS California Water Science Center Sacramento, Sacramento, CA, United States
Shoreline change via coastal erosion and accretion is largely influenced by variations in ocean wave climate. Identifying the sources of these variations is challenging because the timing of wave energy delivery varies over multiple timescales within ocean basins. We present the results of an investigation of USACE Wave Information Studies hindcast hourly wave heights, periods, and directions along the North American Atlantic coast from 1980-2012, designed to explore links between wave climate and teleconnection patterns. Trends in median and extreme significant wave heights (SWHs) demonstrate that mean monthly SWHs increased from 1 to 5 cm/yr along the roughly 3000 km reach of study area, with changes in hurricane season waves appearing to be most influential in producing the overall trends. Distributions of SWHs categorized by North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) phase, show that positive-period NAO SWHs are greater than negative-period NAO SWHs along the entire eastern seaboard (25°N to 45°N). The most prominent wave direction off Cape Cod, MA during positive-period NAO is approximately 105°, as compared to approximately 75° during negative-period NAO. Prominent wave directions between Cape Canaveral, FL, and Savannah, GA exhibit a similar shift but during opposite phases of the NAO. The results of this analysis suggest that the atmosphere-ocean interactions associated with contrasting NAO phases can significantly change the wave climate observed offshore along the North American Atlantic coast, altering alongshore wave energy fluxes and sediment transport patterns along the coast.