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I would like to know which are the best methods used to predict sea waves characteristics (particularly predict length/height given water depth and wind speed) and how are they used. My major is unrelated to physics.

I have been googling about this, and found some slides from the MIT's Ocean Engineering) where several complex wave spectral models (like Bretschneider or Jonswap models) are presented, and also found this question, which I think is closely related, however the answer seems to be the "Green's law"...

Could someone give me some advice on this?

Thanks in advice..

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This thread might be a useful start: boatdesign.net/forums/boat-design/… See also www4.ncsu.edu/eos/users/c/ceknowle/public/chapter10/part2.html –  EnergyNumbers Dec 31 '11 at 9:34
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The mechanism presented here is certainly the driving interaction: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/15582/… . Predicting the statistics of the waves requires a model for their decay and propagation, however, not just the instability that gets them going. But the order of magnitude is easy to estimate from just the form of the driving mechanism, which is the pressure difference set up by wind going over a sinusoidally varying surface. –  Ron Maimon Dec 31 '11 at 12:48
    
Thanks for the replies! I will get a look at the links. –  D T Jan 4 '12 at 2:19
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Doubtless you have already found that sea waves are really complicated to study analytically or numerically. Since you're clearly interested in some depth, you might like to look at the study of Rogue waves - a kind of soliton. There is an extremely knowledgeable group (whom I used to work alongside) at the Australian National University looking at this stuff: see contacts for Adrian Ankiewicz and Nail Akhmediev physics.anu.edu.au/news.php?NewsID=28 and physics.anu.edu.au/people/profile.php?ID=594 –  WetSavannaAnimal aka Rod Vance Jul 18 '13 at 1:59
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2 Answers

The best Wind Wave Models for predicting sea wave characteristics are going to be the forecasting products (computer programs) offered by national weather and oceanographic agencies such as NOAA and Environment Canada.

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This could be wrong or an oversimplification, but I think the basic physics works like this. Waves are whipped up by winds, and then they propagate outwards. In the area where they're produced, the height should depend on the strength of the wind, while the spectrum of frequencies will be identical to that of the wind. As the waves propagate outward from the source, there is dispersion, so someone far away will see the different parts of the spectrum arrive at different times.

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"Introductory Dynamic Oceanography" by Pond and Pickard was the senior undergraduate text for introducing this (once.) Basic empirical models show significant wave height and period depends upon wind speed, fetch, and duration of wind. –  Mark Rovetta Jul 18 '13 at 4:41
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