El Niño-Southern Oscillation impacts on global wave climate and potential coastal hazards

I. Odériz*, R. Silva, T. R. Mortlock, N. Mori

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Wave direction and wave power are the main climate-related drivers of large-scale coastal morphological hazards on open sandy coastlines. El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the main climate driver affecting global wave climates on interannual timescales. Hence, a quantification of wave climate variability with ENSO would aid the characterization of coastal risk as a first-pass assessment tool. However, no such data are available on the global scale at present. To address this, this work (1) quantifies ENSO impacts on global mean wave direction and wave power, and (2) classifies the global coast according to the ENSO wave climate hazard. The correlation coefficient (R) of the Multivariate ENSO Index between wave power and mean wave direction was calculated. Then, employing a multivariate technique, the resulting R values were used to classify the global coastlines. The results show that ENSO has distinct latitudinal impacts around the world. El Niño increases the wave power of swells generated in the extra-tropics which propagate toward the tropics, a phenomenon which is particularly notable in the Pacific Basin, while the most significant rotations in wave direction with ENSO occur at tropical and subtropical latitudes. Based on this new information, the global coastline was classified into five distinct types, depending on the directional wave climate response to ENSO.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere2020JC016464
    Pages (from-to)1-16
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


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