Articles | Volume 15, issue 6
Ocean Sci., 15, 1615–1625, 2019
Ocean Sci., 15, 1615–1625, 2019

Research article 06 Dec 2019

Research article | 06 Dec 2019

Increasing turbidity in the North Sea during the 20th century due to changing wave climate

Robert J. Wilson and Michael R. Heath

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A synthetic map of the north-west European Shelf sedimentary environment for applications in marine science
Robert J. Wilson, Douglas C. Speirs, Alessandro Sabatino, and Michael R. Heath
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Cited articles

Aarnes, O. J., Reistad, M., Breivik, Ø., Bitner-Gregersen, E., Ingolf Eide, L., Gramstad, O., Magnusson, A. K., Natvig, B., and Vanem, E.: Projected changes in significant wave height toward the end of the 21st century: Northeast Atlantic, J. Geophys. Res.-Oceans, 122, 3394–3403,, 2017. 
Aarup, T.: Transparency of the North Sea and Baltic Sea – A Secchi depth data mining study, Oceanologia, 44, 323–337, 2002. 
Aldridge, J. N., Parker, E. R., Bricheno, L. M., Green, S. L., and van der Molen, J.: Assessment of the physical disturbance of the northern European Continental shelf seabed by waves and currents, Cont. Shelf Res., 108, 121–140,, 2015. 
Capuzzo, E., Lynam, C. P., Barry, J., Stephens, D., Forster, R. M., Greenwood, N., McQuatters‐Gollop, A., Silva, T., van Leeuwen, S. M., and Engelhard, G. H.: A decline in primary production in the North Sea over 25 years, associated with reductions in zooplankton abundance and fish stock recruitment, Glob. Change Biol., 24, 352–364,, 2017. 
Capuzzo, E., Stephens, D., Silva, T., Barry, J., and Forster, R. M.: Decrease in water clarity of the southern and central North Sea during the 20th century, Glob. Change Biol., 21, 2206–2214,, 2015. 
Short summary
The North Sea became much less clear during the 20th century, with potential consequences for primary production. This study analyses the hypothesis that changes in wave regime were a key driver of this change. We hindcast bed shear stress over the 20th century using a long-term wave reanalysis. Shear stress increased by over 20 % in large parts of the southern and central North Sea during the 20th century. An increase of this magnitude would have caused a large decline in water clarity.