METEOROLOGICAL TSUNAMIS IN SOUTHERN BRITAIN: AN HISTORICAL REVIEW*

Authors


  • *

    We would like to thank Prof. I. J. Fairchild (University of Birmingham), J. M. Walker (Royal Meteorological Society), J. Murray, M. and V. Hopkins, and M. Simms (Ulster Museum) for drawing our attention to some of the events discussed here. We are grateful to S. Pullen (Ilfracombe Museum) for kindly supplying material, to I. MacGregor (Meteorological Office) for supplying some archival data, and to D. Jeffcott (Cardiff Bay Barrage) for the Bristol Channel seiche data.

Abstract

ABSTRACT. Meteorological tsunamis, or meteo-tsunamis, are long-period waves that possess tsunami characteristics but are meteorological in origin, although they are not storm surges. In this article we investigate the coast of southern Britain-the English Channel, the Bristol Channel, and the Severn Estuary-for the occurrence of tsunami-like waves that, in the absence of associated seismic activity, we recognize as meteo-tsunamis. The passage of squall lines over the sea apparently generated three of these events, and two seem to have been far-traveled, long-period waves from mid-North Atlantic atmospheric low-pressure systems. The remaining three wave events appear to have been associated with storms that, among possible explanations, may have induced large-amplitude standing waves-such as seiches-or created long-period waves through the opposition of onshore gale-force winds and swells with high ebb tidal current velocities. This coastal hazard has resulted in damage and loss of life and should be considered in future coastal defense strategies and in beachuser risk assessments.

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