Meteotsunamis in the laurentian great lakes

Adam J. Bechle, Chin H. Wu, David A.R. Kristovich, Eric J. Anderson, David J. Schwab, Alexander B. Rabinovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number37832
JournalScientific reports
StatePublished - Nov 24 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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