Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 65, Issue 11, pp 1489–1507 | Cite as

Statistical estimation of extreme ocean waves over the eastern Canadian shelf from 30-year numerical wave simulation

  • Lanli GuoEmail author
  • Jinyu Sheng
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on the 6th International Workshop on Modeling the Ocean (IWMO) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada 23-27 June 2014


Reliable estimation of extreme ocean surface gravity waves is important for many scientific and practical issues. In this study, WAVEWATCHIII is used to simulate wave conditions over the eastern Canadian shelf (ECS) for the 30-year period, 1979–2008. The wave model is forced by the 6-hourly winds and ice cover taken from the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR). A parametric vortex is inserted into the CFSR winds to better represent surface winds associated with tropical storms or hurricanes. The model performance in simulating the bulk significant wave height is assessed by comparing model results with wave observations at 12 buoy stations over the ECS. The peaks-over-threshold method is used to estimate the extreme significant wave heights from 30-year wave simulations. The estimated extreme waves with the 50-year return period over the ECS feature large wave heights of more than 12 m in the offshore deep waters and about 8–12 m over the open shelf waters of the ECS. By comparison, the 50-year extreme waves are moderate and 7 m or less in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and inner Gulf of Maine.


Significant wave height Extreme wave height The eastern Canadian shelf Peaks over threshold method Nested-grid Wave model WAVEWATCH Wind sea Swell 



The authors wish to thank Heng Zhang, William Perrie, Bechara Toulany, and Shiliang Shan for their contributions. The research was funded by the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). JS is also supported by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, which helps to protect life and property by supporting engineering-related education, public engagement, and the application of research. Model simulations were conducted on computers operated by the Atlantic Computational Excellence Network (ACEnet), which is a partner consortium of Compute Canada, the organization responsible for research High Performance Computing in Canada.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of OceanographyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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