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Meteotsunamis in the Laurentian Great Lakes

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

The generation mechanism of meteotsunamis, which are meteorologically induced water waves with spatial/temporal characteristics and behavior similar to seismic tsunamis, is poorly understood. We quantify meteotsunamis in terms of seasonality, causes, and occurrence frequency through the analysis of long-term water level records in the Laurentian Great Lakes. The majority of the observed meteotsunamis happen from late-spring to mid-summer and are associated primarily with convective storms. Meteotsunami events of potentially dangerous magnitude (height > 0.3 m) occur an average of 106 times per year throughout the region. These results reveal that meteotsunamis are much more frequent than follow from historic anecdotal reports. Future climate scenarios over the United States show a likely increase in the number of days favorable to severe convective storm formation over the Great Lakes, particularly in the spring season. This would suggest that the convectively associated meteotsunamis in these regions may experience an increase in occurrence frequency or a temporal shift in occurrence to earlier in the warm season. To date, meteotsunamis in the area of the Great Lakes have been an overlooked hazard.

No MeSH data available.


Historic meteotsunami events in the Great Lakes.Map of meteotsunamis reported in the Great Lakes with bathymetry contours and adjacent county-level population density. In addition, the average number of meteotsunamis observed at each station per year is plotted as a circle scaled by area. Figure was created using MATLAB-2016 edition (http: http://www.mathworks.com/) with bathymetry data from NOAA Centers for Environmental Information and population data from United States Census Bureau.
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f1: Historic meteotsunami events in the Great Lakes.Map of meteotsunamis reported in the Great Lakes with bathymetry contours and adjacent county-level population density. In addition, the average number of meteotsunamis observed at each station per year is plotted as a circle scaled by area. Figure was created using MATLAB-2016 edition (http: http://www.mathworks.com/) with bathymetry data from NOAA Centers for Environmental Information and population data from United States Census Bureau.

Mentions: The Laurentian Great Lakes, which form the Earth’s largest freshwater system and include over 10,000 miles of coastline, are an example of a region with low seismic activity but a long history of impactful meteotsunami events, as illustrated in Fig. 14111829303132 (seesupplemental Table S1for a list of historic events). The disastrous effects of meteotsunamis in the Great Lakes were most vividly demonstrated in 1954, when a three meter meteotsunami killed seven people in Chicago, IL, USA4. Recently, notable meteotsunamis have occurred in 2012, when three swimmers required rescue after being swept a kilometer offshore into Lake Erie near Cleveland, OH, USA11 and in 2014, when a Lake Superior meteotsunami overtopped the Soo Locks, interrupted shipping operations, and prompted homes to be evacuated in Saulte Ste. Marie, ON, Canada. Most of the reported Great Lakes meteotsunamis have occurred near densely populated areas (Fig. 1), possibly due to a reporting bias towards population centers. Furthermore, wave transformations such as reflection in the enclosed basins can result in a meteotsunami wave that is decoupled from the causative atmospheric disturbance1121, which not only leads to increased risk for coastal communities but can also cause misidentification of the source of these waves. As a result, a credible quantitative assessment of meteotsunami occurrence in the Great Lakes has been lacking until recently when the occurrence of meteotsunamis was quantified for the first-time using 20-year historic water level records at 10 sites around Lake Michigan28. Nevertheless, the occurrence frequency of meteotsunamis on a regional scale such as the entire Great Lakes region has yet to be assessed and the risk posed by these coastal hazards remains unclear.


Meteotsunamis in the Laurentian Great Lakes
Historic meteotsunami events in the Great Lakes.Map of meteotsunamis reported in the Great Lakes with bathymetry contours and adjacent county-level population density. In addition, the average number of meteotsunamis observed at each station per year is plotted as a circle scaled by area. Figure was created using MATLAB-2016 edition (http: http://www.mathworks.com/) with bathymetry data from NOAA Centers for Environmental Information and population data from United States Census Bureau.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5121654&req=5

f1: Historic meteotsunami events in the Great Lakes.Map of meteotsunamis reported in the Great Lakes with bathymetry contours and adjacent county-level population density. In addition, the average number of meteotsunamis observed at each station per year is plotted as a circle scaled by area. Figure was created using MATLAB-2016 edition (http: http://www.mathworks.com/) with bathymetry data from NOAA Centers for Environmental Information and population data from United States Census Bureau.
Mentions: The Laurentian Great Lakes, which form the Earth’s largest freshwater system and include over 10,000 miles of coastline, are an example of a region with low seismic activity but a long history of impactful meteotsunami events, as illustrated in Fig. 14111829303132 (seesupplemental Table S1for a list of historic events). The disastrous effects of meteotsunamis in the Great Lakes were most vividly demonstrated in 1954, when a three meter meteotsunami killed seven people in Chicago, IL, USA4. Recently, notable meteotsunamis have occurred in 2012, when three swimmers required rescue after being swept a kilometer offshore into Lake Erie near Cleveland, OH, USA11 and in 2014, when a Lake Superior meteotsunami overtopped the Soo Locks, interrupted shipping operations, and prompted homes to be evacuated in Saulte Ste. Marie, ON, Canada. Most of the reported Great Lakes meteotsunamis have occurred near densely populated areas (Fig. 1), possibly due to a reporting bias towards population centers. Furthermore, wave transformations such as reflection in the enclosed basins can result in a meteotsunami wave that is decoupled from the causative atmospheric disturbance1121, which not only leads to increased risk for coastal communities but can also cause misidentification of the source of these waves. As a result, a credible quantitative assessment of meteotsunami occurrence in the Great Lakes has been lacking until recently when the occurrence of meteotsunamis was quantified for the first-time using 20-year historic water level records at 10 sites around Lake Michigan28. Nevertheless, the occurrence frequency of meteotsunamis on a regional scale such as the entire Great Lakes region has yet to be assessed and the risk posed by these coastal hazards remains unclear.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

The generation mechanism of meteotsunamis, which are meteorologically induced water waves with spatial/temporal characteristics and behavior similar to seismic tsunamis, is poorly understood. We quantify meteotsunamis in terms of seasonality, causes, and occurrence frequency through the analysis of long-term water level records in the Laurentian Great Lakes. The majority of the observed meteotsunamis happen from late-spring to mid-summer and are associated primarily with convective storms. Meteotsunami events of potentially dangerous magnitude (height > 0.3 m) occur an average of 106 times per year throughout the region. These results reveal that meteotsunamis are much more frequent than follow from historic anecdotal reports. Future climate scenarios over the United States show a likely increase in the number of days favorable to severe convective storm formation over the Great Lakes, particularly in the spring season. This would suggest that the convectively associated meteotsunamis in these regions may experience an increase in occurrence frequency or a temporal shift in occurrence to earlier in the warm season. To date, meteotsunamis in the area of the Great Lakes have been an overlooked hazard.

No MeSH data available.