An improved wave spectral characterisation of the Southern Ocean


Peter McComb


MetOcean Solutions, New Zealand


Fri, 30/06/2017 - 2:00pm


RC-4082, The Red Centre, UNSW


The Southern Ocean represents around 22% of the global sea surface area. The combination of persistent westerly winds, and the largely unbroken expanse of sea, produces potentially enormous fetches, resulting in the Southern Ocean experiencing higher wave heights for longer periods than any other body of water. Due to the harsh ocean environment and remote location, it is also the least observed of any ocean body. While satellite altimeter data can be used to estimate the surface variance, the wave spectral characteristics cannot yet be measured remotely, and consequently the directional wave spectra Southern Ocean are poorly sampled and not well understood. This project aims to provide a quantitative assessment of the performance of recently implemented improvements of source term physics in WAVEWATCH III in the Southern Ocean, and include an analysis of the relative importance of large scale ocean currents. The investigation is timely due to the improved physical robustness of operational wave model source terms, the ready availability of eddy resolving ocean models and some recent spectral wave observations from a moored buoy at 53 deg south.

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