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Wave height analysis from 10 years of observations in the Norwegian Sea

Feng, X. ORCID:, Tsimplis, M.N., Quartly, G.D. and Yelland, M.J. (2014) Wave height analysis from 10 years of observations in the Norwegian Sea. Continental Shelf Research, 72. pp. 47-56. ISSN 0278-4343

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.csr.2013.10.013


Large waves pose risks to ships, offshore structures, coastal infrastructure and ecosystems. This paper analyses 10 years of in-situ measurements of significant wave height (Hs) and maximum wave height (Hmax) from the ocean weather ship Polarfront in the Norwegian Sea. During the period 2000 to 2009, surface elevation was recorded every 0.59 s during sampling periods of 30 min. The Hmax observations scale linearly with Hs on average. A widely-used empirical Weibull distribution is found to estimate average values of Hmax/Hs and Hmax better than a Rayleigh distribution, but tends to underestimate both for all but the smallest waves. In this paper we propose a modified Rayleigh distribution which compensates for the heterogeneity of the observed dataset: the distribution is fitted to the whole dataset and improves the estimate of the largest waves. Over the 10-year period, the Weibull distribution approximates the observed Hs and Hmax well, and an exponential function can be used to predict the probability distribution function of the ratio Hmax/Hs. However, the Weibull distribution tends to underestimate the occurrence of extremely large values of Hs and Hmax. The persistence of Hs and Hmax in winter is also examined. Wave fields with Hs>12 m and Hmax>16 m do not last longer than 3 h. Low-to-moderate wave heights that persist for more than 12 h dominate the relationship of the wave field with the winter NAO index over 2000–2009. In contrast, the inter-annual variability of wave fields with Hs>5.5 m or Hmax>8.5 m and wave fields persisting over ~2.5 days is not associated with the winter NAO index.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:39989

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