The California coastal wave monitoring and prediction system

O'Reilly, WC, Olfe CB, Thomas J, Seymour RJ, Guza RT.  2016.  The California coastal wave monitoring and prediction system. Coastal Engineering. 116:118-132.

Date Published:



buoy, climate, Longshore radiation stress, models, ocean waves, refraction, spectra, storms, swell, Wave buoys, wave models, wave refraction, Wave runup


A decade-long effort to estimate nearshore (20 m depth) wave conditions based on offshore buoy observations along the California coast is described. Offshore, deep water directional wave buoys are used to initialize a non stationary, linear, spectral refraction wave model. Model hindcasts of spectral parameters commonly used in nearshore process studies and engineering design are validated against nearshore buoy observations seaward of the surfzone. The buoy-driven wave model shows significant skill at most validation sites, but prediction errors for individual swell or sea events can be large. Model skill is high in north San Diego County, and low in the Santa Barbara Channel and along the southern Monterey Bay coast. Overall, the buoy-driven model hindcasts have relatively low bias and therefore are best suited for quantifying mean (e.g. monthly or annual) nearshore wave climate conditions rather than extreme or individual wave events. Model error correlation with the incident offshore wave energy, and between neighboring validation sites, may be useful in identifying sources of regional modeling errors. (C) 2016 The Authors.