Wave-height hazard analysis in Eastern Coast of Spain: Bayesian approach using generalized Pareto distribution

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Standard practice of wave-height hazard analysis often pays little attention to the uncertainty of assessed return periods and occurrence probabilities. This fact favors the opinion that, when large events happen, the hazard assessment should change accordingly. However, uncertainty of the hazard estimates is normally able to hide the effect of those large events. This is illustrated using data from the Mediterranean coast of Spain, where the last years have been extremely disastrous. Thus, it is possible to compare the hazard assessment based on data previous to those years with the analysis including them. With our approach, no significant change is detected when the statistical uncertainty is taken into account. The hazard analysis is carried out with a standard model. Time-occurrence of events is assumed Poisson distributed. The wave-height of each event is modelled as a random variable which upper tail follows a Generalized Pareto Distribution (GPD). Moreover, wave-heights are assumed independent from event to event and also independent of their occurrence in time. A threshold for excesses is assessed empirically. The other three parameters (Poisson rate, shape and scale parameters of GPD) are jointly estimated using Bayes' theorem. Prior distribution accounts for physical features of ocean waves in the Mediterranean sea and experience with these phenomena. Posterior distribution of the parameters allows to obtain posterior distributions of other derived parameters like occurrence probabilities and return periods. Predictives are also available. Computations are carried out using the program BGPE v2.0 ​
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