Long-term analysis of microseism during extreme weather events: Medicanes and common storms in the Mediterranean Sea

Sci Total Environ. 2024 Mar 10:915:169989. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.169989. Epub 2024 Jan 14.


In this work, we analyze 12 meteorological events that occurred in the Mediterranean Sea during the period November 2011-November 2021 from a seismic point of view. In particular, we consider 8 Medicanes and 4 more common storms. Each of these events, in spite of the marked differences between them, caused heavy rainfall, strong wind gusts and violent storm surge with significant wave heights usually >3 m. We deal with the relationships between these meteorological events and the features of microseism (the most continuous and widespread seismic signal on Earth) in terms of spectral content, space-time variation of the amplitude and source locations tracked employing two different methods (amplitude decay-based grid search and array techniques). By comparing the positions of the microseism sources with the areas of significant storm surges, we observe that the microseism locations align with the actual locations of the storm surges for 10 out of 12 events analyzed (two Medicanes present very low intensity in terms of meteorological parameters and the microseism amplitude does not show significant variations during these two events). We also perform two analyses that allowed us to obtain both the seismic signature of these events, by using a method that exploits the coherence of continuous seismic noise, and their strength from a seismic point of view, called Microseism Reduced Amplitude. In addition, by integrating the results obtained from these two methods, we are able to "seismically" distinguish Medicanes and common storms. Consequently, we demonstrate the possibility of creating a novel monitoring system for Mediterranean meteorological events by incorporating microseism information alongside with other commonly employed techniques for studying meteorological phenomena. The integration of microseism with the data provided by routinely used techniques in sea state monitoring (e.g., wave buoy and HF radar) has the potential to offer valuable insights into the examination of historical extreme weather events within the context of climate change.

Keywords: Climate change; Common storms; Hindcast maps; Medicanes; Mediterranean Sea; Microseism; Monitoring sea state; Wave buoys.