Deep water observations of extreme waves with moored and free GPS buoys

Research paper by Takuji Waseda, Masato Sinchi, Keiji Kiyomatsu, Tomoya Nishida, Shunsuke Takahashi, Sho Asaumi, Yoshimi Kawai, Hitoshi Tamura, Yasumasa Miyazawa

Indexed on: 27 Jul '14Published on: 27 Jul '14Published in: Ocean Dynamics


Point-positioning GPS-based wave measurements were conducted by deep ocean (over 5,000 m) surface buoys moored in the North West Pacific Ocean in 2009, 2012, and 2013. The observed surface elevation bears statistical characteristics of Gaussian, spectrally narrow ocean waves. The tail of the averaged spectrum follows the frequency to the power of −4 slope, and the significant wave height and period satisfies the Toba’s 3/2 law. The observations compare well with a numerical wave hindcast. Two large freak waves exceeding 13 m in height were observed in October 2009 and three extreme waves around 20 m in height were observed in October 2012 and in January 2013. These extreme events are associated with passages of a typhoon and a mid-latitude cyclone. Horizontal movement of the buoy revealed that the orbital motion of the waves at the peak of the wave group mostly exceed the weakly nonlinear estimate. For some cases, the orbital velocity exceeded the group velocity, which might indicate a breaking event but is not conclusive yet.