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Regional swell transformation by backward ray tracing and SWAN

TitleRegional swell transformation by backward ray tracing and SWAN
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsCrosby S.C, Kumar N., O'Reilly W.C, Guza RT
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Date Published2019/02
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0739-0572
Accession NumberWOS:000457403600002
Keywordsclimate; continental-shelf; Engineering; Grid systems; Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences; Model comparison; Model errors; optimization; part i; refraction; Regional models; validation; wave model; Wind waves

Beach erosion and wave-induced flooding models are often initialized in O(10)-m depth, seaward of the surfzone, with wave conditions estimated from regional nonlinear spectral wave models [e.g., Simulating Waves Nearshore (SWAN)]. These models are computationally expensive for high-resolution, long-term regional O(100)-km hindcasts, and they limit examination of the effect of different climate scenarios on nearshore processes. Alternatively, computationally fast models with reduced linear wave physics enable long-term hindcasts at high spatial (<100 m) resolution. Linear models, that efficiently transform complete spectral details from deep water through complex offshore bathymetry, are appropriate for low-frequency swell wave energy propagation. Here, two numerically different linear methods are compared: backward ray-tracing and stationary linear SWAN simulations. The methods yield similar transformations from deep water (seaward of offshore islands in Southern California) to the nearshore, O(10)-m depth. However, SWAN is sensitive to model spatial resolution, especially in highly sheltered regions, where with typical (1-2 km) resolution SWAN estimates of nearshore energy vary by over a factor of 2 relative to ray tracing. Alongshore radiation stress estimates from SWAN and ray tracing also differ, and in some cases the climatological means have opposite signs. Increasing the SWAN resolution to 90 m, higher than usually applied to regional models, yields the nearshore transforms most similar to ray tracing. Both accurate rays and high-resolution SWAN require significant computation time; however, ray tracing is more efficient if transforms are needed at relatively few locations (compared with every grid point), or if computer memory is limited. Though presently less user friendly than SWAN, ray tracing is not affected by numerical diffusion or limited by model domain size or spatial resolution.

Short TitleJ. Atmos. Ocean. Technol.
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