Improving coastal wave hindcasts by combining offshore buoy observations with global wave models.

Monday, 15 December 2014
Sean C Crosby, University of Calif San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States, William C O'Reilly, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA, United States and Robert T Guza, Univ California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States
Waves conditions in southern California are sensitive to offshore wave directions. Due to blocking by coastal islands and refraction across complex bathymetry, a <10o difference in incident wave direction can dramatically change coastal wave energy. Directional wave buoys are fundamentally low-resolution instruments, while the directional bin widths of operational wind-wave models are coarse (e.g. 10o). Operational wind-wave models have useful prediction skill in the nearshore, however, wave buoy measurements, when combined with standard directional estimation techniques, are shown to provide significantly better hindcasts. Techniques to combine offshore global wave model predictions (NOAA’s Wave Watch 3 hindcasts) and offshore buoy measurements are being developed. The skill of different combination methodologies as an offshore boundary condition is assessed using spectral ray-tracing methods to transform incident offshore swell-spectra to shallow water buoy locations. A nearly continuous 10 yr data set of approximately 14 buoys is used. Comparisons include standard bulk parameters (e.g. significant wave height, peak period), the frequency-dependent energy spectrum (needed for run-up estimation) and radiation stress component Sxy (needed for alongshore current and sediment transport estimation). Global wave model uncertainties are unknown, complicating the formulation of optimum assimilation constraints. Several plausible models for estimating offshore waves are tested. Future work includes assimilating nearshore buoy observations, with the long-term objective of accurate regional wave hindcasts using an efficient mix of global wave models and buoys. This work is supported by the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Division of Boating and Waterways Oceanography Program.