A new 109 year numerical wind-wave hindcast is developed for the North Atlantic Ocean based on the 20th century atmospheric reanalysis (20CR). Wave results are validated directly against data originating from voluntary observing ships and satellite altimetry in the North-East Atlantic Ocean. The normalized error for yearly-mean significant wave height (H-s) is shown to be of the order of 5% for the second part of the 20th century. An indirect validation is also performed through 10 m wind speed and suggests that the accuracy of yearly-mean H, only slightly decreases for the beginning of the 20th century. The comparison between H, and the index of the North Atlantic Oscillation revealed that this phenomenon partly controls H, inter-annual variability, with a positive (negative) correlation in the northeastern (southwestern) part of the study area. The analysis of model results shows an increase in H-s over the whole North Atlantic Ocean superimposed to the inter-annual variability, reaching 0.01 m.yr(-1) (20 to 40% over the 20th century) north of 50 degrees N. This increase is explained by a rise in wind speed exceeding 20% north of 50 degrees N. The roughening in the wave climate demonstrated in this study is expected to have strong implications for the development of coastal zones and could explain the increase in erosion along the North Atlantic shorelines. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
[Bertin, Xavier; Prouteau, Elizabeth; Letetrel, Camille] Univ La Rochelle, Inst Littoral & Environm, UMR LIENSs CNRS 7266, F-17000 La Rochelle, France
Bertin, X (reprint author), Univ La Rochelle, Inst Littoral & Environm, UMR LIENSs CNRS 7266, 2 Rue Olympe Gouges, F-17000 La Rochelle, France.