A proof-of-concept study for the assimilation of satellite altimeter wave period to improve operational ocean wave forecasts

Lead Research Organisation: National Oceanography Centre
Department Name: NERC Strategic Research Division


This project is a proof-of-concept study aimed at assessing the ability of satellite altimeter wave period measurements to improve the forecasts of numerical ocean wave models. Good predictions of ocean wave period are extremely important for the design of sea-going and offshore structures and to ensure the safety of operations at sea (e.g. shipping, fisheries, cable laying, offshore oil exploration). Retrieving wave period information from satellite altimeters is a pioneering technique developed a few years ago by the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton for the Topex altimeter. Here, we join forces with the French operational weather forecasting agency, Meteo-France, to determine whether this information can help improve ocean weather forecasting. Meteo-France is currenlty the world-leader in combining wind and wave information from satellites with numerical models to improve operational forecasts. In order to reach this goal, new wave period algorithms for Jason 1 and ENVISAT RA2 altimeters will be developed. The project will also assess the validity of the altimeter and model wave period results in different environmental conditions based on new triple collocations between altimeters, model output and moored buoys, using buoys and altimeter data not already used for the development of the empirical algorithms or for assimilation.


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Mackay E (2008) A parametric model for ocean wave period from K u band altimeter data in Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans