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Future wave-driven coastal sediment transport along the Catalan coast (NW Mediterranean)

Casas-Prat, Mercè, McInnes, Kathleen L., Hemer, Mark A., Sierra, Joan P.
Regional environmental change 2016 v.16 no.6 pp. 1739-1750
climate, climate change, coasts, models, sediment transport, uncertainty, Mediterranean Sea
In the context of climate change, this study evaluates the impact on the long-shore and cross-shore sediment transport (LST and CST) along the Catalan coast (NW Mediterranean Sea) derived from climate projections obtained from five combinations of regional and global circulation models (RCMs and GCMs). Special emphasis is given to how inter-model variability translates from wave projections to wave-driven coastal impacts, which is still poorly known. Results show that the uncertainty is in general larger, especially for LST, for which the discrepancies among regional models are more relevant than those associated with the forcing wave parameters. Such increase in the uncertainty can be explained by the nonlinear processes involved, and the role of the forcing wave parameters having sometimes competing effects (e.g. wave height vs. wave direction). This illustrates that the performance of each RCM–GCM can vary from forcing to impact parameters; hence, the suitability of a particular RCM–GCM to evaluate a certain impact should be assessed based on its ability to properly simulate such impact. In this regard, LST and CST rates computed using empirical formulae that integrate several wave climate parameters, as in this study, can be used as a non-computationally expensive tool to assess the suitability of a given RCM–GCM to project changes in coastal dynamics.