NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Experts devise system to predict east coast wave damage

Massive wave in Stonehaven Image copyright Brian Doyle

Experts have developed a system for predicting storm damage by waves on vulnerable communities on the east coast of Scotland.

Mathematicians at the University of Strathclyde have devised a model of the region's coastal waters which simulates waves and the effect of tidal currents.

They believe it could be used to better forecast damaging wave conditions in coastal towns like Stonehaven.

The Aberdeenshire town has been badly affected by flooding in the past.

Alessandro Sabatino, who led the research, said: "The combination of spring tides, strong winds and high waves can be extremely threatening to coastal areas.

"Modelling has been used to help develop forecasting systems to predict flood risk around the shallower southern regions of the North Sea, where the coastal margin is low-lying and population density is high.

"Coastal areas of the deeper northern North Sea are subject to regular storm damage as well but there have been few, if any, wave models developed for these waters."

Image copyright PAul Barlow

The study examined three North Sea storms in 2010 - in February, March and June - for interactions between waves and currents.

It found that the north-east coast was more exposed to swell arriving from the North Atlantic and the Norwegian Sea, while the central and southern coasts were more exposed to local wind-sea waves and to storms generated in the wider North Sea.

Mr Sabatino said: "Our results indicate that interactions between waves from different directions, and between waves and currents, play a fundamental role in the wave climate.

"Models such as this are needed for better forecasting of damaging wave conditions in coastal waters."

The research has been published in the journal Ocean Science.