Assimilating Global Wave Model Predictions and Deep-Water Wave Observations in Nearshore Swell Predictions

Crosby, SC, Cornuelle BD, O'Reilly WC, Guza RT.  2017.  Assimilating Global Wave Model Predictions and Deep-Water Wave Observations in Nearshore Swell Predictions. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology. 34:1823-1836.

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buoy, directional spectra, southern california bight, swan, system


Nearshore wave predictions with high resolution in space and time are needed for boating safety, to assess flood risk, and to support nearshore processes research. This study presents methods for improving regional nearshore predictions of swell-band wave energy (0.04-0.09 Hz) by assimilating local buoy observations into a linear wave propagation model with a priori guidance from global WAVEWATCH III (WW3) model predictions. Linear wave propagation, including depth-induced refraction and shoaling, and travel time lags, is modeled with self-adjoint backward ray tracing techniques. The Bayesian assimilation yields smooth, high-resolution offshore wave directional spectra that are consistent with WW3, and with offshore and local buoy observations. Case studies in the Southern California Bight (SCB) confirm that the nearshore predictions at independent (nonassimilated) buoy sites are improved by assimilation compared with predictions driven with WW3 or with a single offshore buoy. These assimilation techniques, valid in regions and frequency bands where wave energy propagation is mostly linear, use significantly less computational resources than nonlinear models and variational methods, and could be a useful component of a larger regional assimilation program. Where buoy locations have historically been selected to meet local needs, these methods can aid in the design of regional buoy arrays by quantifying the regional skill improvement for a given buoy observation and identifying both high-value and redundant observations. Assimilation techniques also identify likely forward model error in the Santa Barbara Channel, where permanent observations or model corrections are needed.