Documentary records of coastal storms in Scotland, 1500-1991 A.D
Hickey, Kieran Richard
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This study is concerned with the preparation of a research datum line in historical climatology and will provide a valuable data set for a wide variety of researchers in the future who are interested in the relationship between aspects of the coastal and climate sytems and the human-coastal environment interface. The principal objective was to create and prepare an original historical data base on the storms, floods, erosion events and sand movements in Scotland 1500-1991 A. D. This has been accomplished employing a range of techniques including the careful selection, sifting, handling and classification of historical data sets. This is neccessary because of the reliance on descriptive information for many aspects of the study. A secondary but nevertheless important part of the work was to explore temporal and geographical variations in the relationship between floods and various components of the climate system. During this period there have been substantial temporal and geographical variations in the incidence of coastal floods, erosion and sand movements in Scotland both with periods of increased flood occurrence between 1620-1700 (the peak of the 'Little Ice Age') and also from 1850-1875. The critical factors identified in the generation of these types of incidents and examined in this study include the direction of cyclones as they cross NW Europe, the meteorological conditions associated with the generation of gales, tides and storm surges. The phenomena investigated here generated a wide variety of coastal impacts. Comparison with similar records of floods, erosion and sand movements from around NW Europe shows that the Scottish records are relatively unique, although some large-scale storms have affected coastlines, not only bordering the North Sea but also elsewhere in NW Europe. Despite the qualitative and historical nature of the research and the data sources used a number of important links between the coastal-climate system have been demonstrated. With respects to storms and floods, the conclusions point to the importance of cyclical response systems within the climate system including the North Atlantic Oscillation Index and El Nino events. Singularities in the global climate system have also been shown to have a distinct impact on storms and floods especially global scale events such as major exposive eruptions.