Numerical Wave Modeling in Conditions with Strong Currents: Dissipation, Refraction, and Relative Wind

Type Article
Date 2012-12
Language English
Author(s) Ardhuin FabriceORCID1, Roland Aron2, Dumas Franck3, Bennis Anne-Claire3, Sentchev Alexei4, Forget Philippe5, 6, 7, Wolf Judith8, Girard Francoise9, Osuna Pedro10, Benoit Michel11
Affiliation(s) 1 : Ifremer, Ctr Brest, Lab Oceanog Spatiale, F-29200 Plouzane, France.
2 : Tech Univ Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Germany.
3 : Ifremer, Lab PHYSED, F-29200 Plouzane, France.
4 : Univ Littoral Cote dOpale, CNRS UMR8187, Lab Oceanol & Geosci, Wimereux, France.
5 : CNRS, Mediterranean Inst Oceanog, La Garde, France.
6 : Aix Marseille Univ, La Garde, France.
7 : Sud Toulon Var Univ, IRD, La Garde, France.
8 : Natl Oceanog Ctr, Liverpool, Merseyside, England.
9 : Actimar SAS, Brest, France.
10 : CICESE, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico.
11 : Lab St Venant, Chatou, France.
Source Journal Of Physical Oceanography (0022-3670) (Amer Meteorological Soc), 2012-12 , Vol. 42 , N. 12 , P. 2101-2120
DOI 10.1175/JPO-D-11-0220.1
WOS© Times Cited 74
Abstract Currents effects on waves have led to many developments in numerical wave modeling over the past two decades, from numerical choices to parameterizations. The performance of numerical models in conditions with strong currents is reviewed here, and observed strong effects of opposed currents and modulations of wave heights by tidal currents in several typical situations are interpreted. For current variations on small scales, the rapid steepening of the waves enhances wave breaking. Using different parameterizations with a dissipation rate proportional to some measure of the wave steepness to the fourth power, the results are very different, none being fully satisfactory, which points to the need for more measurements and further refinements of parameterizations. For larger-scale current variations, the observed modifications of the sea state are mostly explained by refraction of waves over currents and relative wind effects, that is, the wind speed relevant for wave generation is the speed in the frame of reference moving with the near-surface current. It is shown that introducing currents in wave models can reduce the errors on significant wave heights by more than 30% in some macrotidal environments, such as the coast of Brittany, in France. This large impact of currents is not confined to the locations where the currents are strongest, but also downwave from strong current gradients.
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Ardhuin Fabrice, Roland Aron, Dumas Franck, Bennis Anne-Claire, Sentchev Alexei, Forget Philippe, Wolf Judith, Girard Francoise, Osuna Pedro, Benoit Michel (2012). Numerical Wave Modeling in Conditions with Strong Currents: Dissipation, Refraction, and Relative Wind. Journal Of Physical Oceanography, 42(12), 2101-2120. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :