Located on the west margin of the Rio de la Plata estuary, the capital city of Buenos Aires is often affected by positive and negative storm surges due to strong southeasterly and northwesterly winds, respectively, which sweep the estuary. While positive surges cause severe flooding, negative surges affect navigation and drinking water supply. Since Buenos Aires is densely populated, a quantitative assessment of the variations in the regime of storm surges will help to develop policies for reducing their impacts. Changes in frequency, duration, and height of storm surges over the period 1905–2003 were determined from statistical analyses of hourly water levels. Calculations of the tidal constants used harmonic analyses of 19 y periods to account for any variation in the astronomical tide. Positive and negative surges were chosen from the residuals between observed levels and the predicted tide. The results show that the decadal averages of frequency and duration for positive surges have increased in the last three decades, but they have decreased for negative surges. The average decadal trends of the maximum positive and negative surges in each year, +1.46 ± 0.08 mm/y and +1.02 ± 0.09 mm/y, respectively, compare well with the relative mean water-level rise for Buenos Aires: +1.68 ± 0.05 mm/y. However, the height of positive surges has decreased in the last decade, and negative surges have become more intense in the last two decades.

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