Intercomparison of the Performance of Operational Ocean Wave Forecasting Systems with Buoy Data

Bidlot, Jean-Raymond; Holmes, Damian J.; Wittmann, Paul A.; Lalbeharry, Roop; Chen, Hsuan S.
April 2002
Weather & Forecasting;Apr2002, Vol. 17 Issue 2, p287
Academic Journal
The monthly exchange of ocean wave model data has successfully been taking place among five operational weather centers. The data are compared with observations obtained from moored buoys and platforms. The analysis of 3 yr of data has helped to quantify the global and regional skills, strengths, and weaknesses of the different ocean wave forecasting systems. Since the quality of ocean wave forecasts is intrinsically linked to the quality of the forcing wind fields, it is not surprising to find that the center with the lowest wind speed errors also has the lowest wave height errors. The benefit of using a third-generation Wave Model (WAM), for example, is not so tangible in terms of wave height statistics but it is definitively evident in terms of peak periods. Even though WAM has proved to be well suited for global wave forecasting, it is also clear that research is still needed to reduce the model tendency to underpredict some storms when it is forced by operational global wind fields. It appeared that assimilating altimeter wave heights has a positive impact on the model performance. It is also argued that the height of the wind speed observations should be taken into account when assimilating the data or simply when evaluating model performance since it might otherwise introduce a systematic negative bias into the analysis. Last, this exchange of data should continue and possibly extend to other forecasting centers as a tool for model developers but also as a continuous reference for marine forecasters.


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