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Wave projections for United States mainland coasts

May 9, 2016

Coastal managers and ocean engineers rely heavily on projected average and extreme wave conditions for planning and design purposes, but when working on a local or regional scale, are faced with much uncertainty as changes in the global climate impart spatially-varying trends. Future storm conditions are likely to evolve in a fashion that is unlike past conditions and is ultimately dependent on the complicated interaction between the Earth?s atmosphere and ocean systems. Despite a lack of available data and tools to address future impacts, consideration of climate change is increasingly becoming a requirement for organizations considering future nearshore and coastal vulnerabilities. To address this need, the USGS used winds from four different atmosphere-ocean coupled general circulation models (AOGCMs) or Global Climate Models (GCMs) and the WaveWatchIII numerical wave model to compute historical and future wave conditions under the influence of two climate scenarios. The GCMs respond to specified, time-varying concentrations of various atmospheric constituents (such as greenhouse gases) and include an interactive representation of the atmosphere, ocean, land, and sea ice. The two climate scenarios are derived from the Coupled Model Inter-Comparison Project, Phase 5 (CMIP5; World Climate Research Programme, 2013) and represent one medium-emission mitigation scenario (RCP4.5; Representative Concentration Pathways) and one high-emissions scenario (RCP8.5). The historical time-period spans the years 1976 through 2005, whereas the two future time-periods encompass the mid (years 2026 through 2045) and end of the 21st century (years 2081 through 2099/2100). Continuous time-series of dynamically downscaled hourly wave parameters (significant wave heights, peak wave periods, and wave directions) and three-hourly winds (wind speed and wind direction) are available for download at discrete deep-water locations along four U.S. coastal regions: ? Pacific Islands ? West Coast ? East Coast ? Alaska Coasts The Alaskan region includes a total of 25 model output points. Six output points surround the Arctic coast, eight surround the Aleutian Islands, four are within the shallow region of the Bering Sea, and the remaining seven are within the Gulf of Alaska. The U.S. West Coast region stretches from the U.S.- Mexico border to the U.S.- Canada border and includes open coast areas of California, Oregon, and Washington. The West Coast region includes fifteen model output points. Eight model output points are co-located with observation buoys and are identified by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Data Buoy Center (NDBC, station numbers (N46229, N46213, N46214, N46042, N46028, N46069, N46219, N46047). The U.S. East and Gulf Coasts encompass fifteen coastal states stretching from the Gulf Coast States and Florida in the south to the U.S.-Canada border north of Maine. The region includes seventeen model output points; seven are co-located with NDBC observation buoys (N44011, N44014, N41001, N41002, N41010, N42001, N42055). Data summaries for the U.S. East and Gulf Coast regions are provided from the 1.25? x 1.00? global (NWW3) wave model grid (described in Data and Methods section below). Data summaries for the U.S. West Coast region are available from the NWW3 grid and from the finer resolution 0.25? x 0.25? Eastern North Pacific (ENP) grid nested within the NWW3 grid. Data summaries for the southern coast of Alaska are also available from the ENP grid. In cases where model data exist for both the NWW3 and ENP grids, both sets of data are available for download ( The data and cursory overviews of changing conditions along the coasts are summarized in Storlazzi and others (2015) and Erikson and others (2016).

References Cited:
Erikson, L.H., Hegermiller, C.E., Barnard, P.L., and Storlazzi, C.D., 2016, Wave projections for United States mainland coasts: U.S. Geological Survey pamphlet to accompany data release,
Erikson, L.H., Hegermiller, C.A., Barnard, P.L., Ruggiero, P. and van Ormondt, M., 2015b, Projected wave conditions in the Eastern North Pacific under the influence of two CMIP5 climate scenarios: Journal of Ocean Modelling, v. 96, p. 171?185, doi:10.1016/j.ocemod.2015.07.004.
Erikson, L.H., Hemer, M.A., Lionello, P., Mendez, F.J., Mori, N., Semedo, A., Wang, X.L., Wolf, 2015a, Projection of wave conditions in response to climate change: A community approach to global and regional wave downscaling: Proceedings Coastal Sediments, 2015.
Meinshausen, M., Smith, S.J., Calvin, K., Daniel, J.S., Kainuma, M.L.T., Lamarque, J-F., Matsumoto, K., Montzka, S.A., Raper, S.C.B., Riahi, K., Thomson, A., Velders, G.J.M., and van Vuuren, D.P.P., 2011, The RCP greenhouse gas concentrations and their extensions from 1765 to 2300: Climate Change, v. 109, p. 213?241, doi:10.1007/s10584-011-0156-z.
Moss, R. H., Edmonds, J.A., Hibbard, K.A., Manning, M.R., Rose, S.K., van Vuuren, D.P., Carter, T.R., Emori, S., Kainuma, M., Kram, T., Meehl, G.A., Mitchell, J.F.B., Nakicenovic, N., Riahi, K., Smith, S.J., Stouffer, R.J., Thomson, A.M., Weyant, J.P., and Wilbanks, T.J., 2010, The next generation of scenarios for climate change research and assessment: Nature, v. 463, p. 747?756, doi:10.1038/nature08823.
Riahi, K., Rao, S., Krey, V., Cho, C., Chirkov, V., Fischer, G., Kindermann, G., Nakicenovic, N., and Rafai, P., 2011, RCP 8.5: Exploring the consequence of high emission trajectories: Climatic Change, v. 109, p. 33?57, doi:10.1007/s10584-011-0149-y.
Storlazzi, C.D., Shope, J.B., Erikson, L.H., Hegermiller, C.A., and Barnard, P.L., 2015, Future wave and wind projections for United States and United States-affiliated Pacific Islands: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015?1001, 426 p., doi:10.3133/ofr20151001.
Taylor, K.E., Stouffer,R.J., Meehl, G.A., 2012, An overview of CMIP5 and the experiment design: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, v. 93, p. 485?498, doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00094.1.
Thomson, A.M., Calvin, K.V., Smith, S.J., Kyle, G.P., Volke, A., Patel, P., Delgado-Arias, S., Bond-Lamberty, B., Wise, M.A., Clarke, L.E., Edmonds, J.A., 2011, RCP4.5: A pathway for stabilization of radiative forcing by 2100: Climatic Change, v. 109, p. 77?94, doi:10.1007/s10584-011-0151-4.
van Vuuren, D.P., Edmonds, J.A., Kainuma, M., Riahi, K., Thomson, A.M., Hibbard, K., Hurtt, G.C., Kram, T., Krey, V., Lamarque, J-F., Masui, T., Meinshausen, M., Nakicenovic, N., Smith, S.J., and Rose. S, 2011, The representative concentration pathways: an overview: Climatic Change, v. 109, p. 5?31, doi:10.1007/s10584-011-0148-z.