Project title: Strength and Variability of the Adriatic Sea Level Extremes in Present and Future Climates

Acronym: StVar-Adri

Project identifier: IP-2019-04-5875

Type of project: Research Project

Funding body: Croatian Science Foundation (HRZZ)

Project duration: 1 December 2020 – 30 November 2024


The Adriatic extreme flooding events represent a considerable threat for coastal communities and historical town centres, especially along the eastern Adriatic coast and along the coast of the shallow northern Adriatic where these events are known as “Acqua Alta” (It. “high water”). The threat is expected to further increase by the end of the 21st century, due to mean sea level rise which is projected to amount to 40-60 cm worldwide. The Adriatic floods normally develop due to a superposition of numerous processes including long-term sea level trends, interannual variability, seasonal processes, planetary processes, synoptic processes, tidal oscillations, the Adriatic seiche, high-frequency sea level oscillations and wind waves.

Contribution of individual processes to flooding events has not so-far been statistically and extensively evaluated. Within the project StVar-Adri, we intend to first catalogue the strongest flooding events (related to storm surges, meteotsunamis and tsunamis) and then to analyse contribution of (i) planetary component, (ii) the Adriatic seiche and (iii) high-frequency sea level oscillations to the floods. We focus on these three components as detailed analysis of all processes which govern sea level variability would require significantly more time and resources.

Further on, a link between the three mentioned processes and atmospheric conditions governing them has been descriptively given only for sporadic events. It is our intention to use pattern recognition methods to classify atmospheric conditions which govern onset and strengthening of processes (i)-(iii). Finally, there has been no research on future strength and variability of mentioned components of sea level variability. Using pattern extraction methods and Regional Climate Model (RCM) simulations, we intend to assess strength and variability of sea level variability components (i)-(iii) in present- and future-day climates.

Thus, in addition to scientific contribution, the project has a strong societal component which manifests in providing updated estimates of present- and future-day flood hazards along the Adriatic coast.

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