Western Europe’s 2013-14 winter storms most energetic since 1948

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London, March 17 (IANS) The repeated storms which battered Europe’s Atlantic coastline during the winter of 2013-14 were the most energetic in almost seventy years, new research has found.

In the study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers compared modelled and measured data from sites across Scotland, Ireland, England, France, Portugal, Spain and Morocco and showed that the extreme weather conditions of 2013/14 were the most energetic since at least 1948.

The study showed that along exposed open coast sites in Britain and France, there had been extensive beach and dune erosion due to offshore sediment transport, with sediment losses of up to 200 cubic metres for every one-meter strip of beach.

“We have previously conducted research showing the devastating effects caused to Britain by the stormy winter of 2013/14,” said the study’s lead author Gerd Masselink, professor of coastal geomorphology at Plymouth University in Britain.

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“But the damage caused to coastal communities there was replicated — and in some cases exceeded — across western France. All but one of the sites assessed for this study reached their most depleted state at the end of the 2014 winter, and it will take many years for them to fully recover,” Masselink noted.

For the study, researchers used a combination of modelled and measured wave data from the eastern Atlantic, stretching from Morocco to northwest Scotland, and also analysed long-term beach profile data from sites in Ireland, Britain and France.

The results showed that extreme wave conditions occurred up to five times more frequently in 2013/14, and winter wave heights were up to 40 percent higher, than on average.

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“The extreme winter of 2013/14 is in line with historical trends in wave conditions and is also predicted to increasingly occur due to climate change according to some of the climate models, with the winter of 2015/16 also set to be among the stormiest of the past 70 years,” study co-author Tim Scott from Plymouth University noted..

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