Understanding the variability of an extreme storm tide along a coastline

M. Lewis*, G. Schumann, P. Bates, K. Horsburgh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Correctly determining the peak storm tide height along the coastline, and expressing the associated natural variability, is essential for a robust prediction of coastal flood risk. A new approach is proposed that calculates a storm tide relationship (relative to a tide gauge) by using a storm surge model to describe the natural spatial variability based on the features of a large number of very high storm tides. Two historic flood events (1953 and 2007) were used to validate this characteristics approach along the East Anglia coastline (U.K.), and predicted water-levels were found to be in good agreement with tide gauge observations (Root Mean Squared Error of 36 cm), especially when compared to the method of assuming a storm tide of constant return period (Root Mean Squared Error of 59 cm). Detailed observations of storm tide height between tide gauge locations are rare; therefore, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) was employed to calculate the LiDAR geo-referenced storm tide height along the North Somerset coastline of the Bristol Channel (U.K.). Two SAR observed " extreme" storm tide events were used to validate the characteristics approach between tide gauges (Root Mean Squared Error of 1.2 m and 0.7 m), and indicated the presence of localised wave effects to the observed storm tide height that could have a significant effect to flood risk estimates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-25
Number of pages7
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2013


  • Coastal zone management
  • Flooding
  • Inundation modelling
  • Storm surges
  • Synthetic aperture radar


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